With the Busan cinematheque closed until November, and the dearth of quality movies in both mainstream theaters and at the Gukdo Art Cinema, it’s been a rough start to what’s typically referred to as the Oscar Season. But the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is just around the corner, and like always, it will inject a temporary dose of world-class cinema to an otherwise provincial town.
This year promises to be a major milestone in the history of the festival. The official unveiling of the Busan Cinema Center, an ultra-modern cultural complex in the heart of Centum City, will undoubtedly create quite a hoo-ha, prompting local officials to make speeches and pat each other on the back, but to me, this means just one thing. Unlike previous years, BIFF will finally be held in one concentrated area of the city, a welcome change for cinephiles like myself who no longer have to ride the subway back and forth from Nampodong to Haeundae in between screenings, running up and down escalators to make it to the next movie in-time. Whereas most other film festivals had this figured out from day one, in Busan, the sixteenth time’s the charm.
Advance tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies can be bought online starting Monday September 26 at 17:00, while tickets for general screenings go on sale Wednesday September 28 at 9:00. Only how remains a mystery: the guidelines on the website boil down to “visit and register Daum website.” My advice is to ask a Korean friend for help if you intend to buy tickets in advance, which I recommend for anyone who wants a guaranteed seat at a screening.