2017 Taipei Film Academy Opens with BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho's Master Forum - Taipei Film Commission
Organized by Taipei Film Commission (TFC), the 2017 Taipei Film Academy (TFA) kicked off with a “Cinema Master Forum” delivered by Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho of Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on Sep 18th at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei, Taiwan. Chairman Kim was invited to speak on the development of BIFF and its impacts on Korean and Asian film industry. The forum has raised keen interest and received full registration, attracting nearly 200 participants.
BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho
The forum attracted nearly 200 participants
Before the Forum began, Chairman Kim received an honor trophy from Deputy Director Ann Yang of Taipei Culture Foundation in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Taiwanese cinema. Even though it is Kim’s 14th travel abroad this year, the 81-year-old Chairman still appeared in good spirit and greeted the audience delightfully. Kim appreciated TFC Director Jennifer Jao’s invitation, saying that it is his pleasure to meet the participants of the 2017 TFA. He then began the forum by tracing the background of BIFF and named several factors of the festival’s success.
According to Chairman Kim, back in 1990s, the late Kim Ji-seok, former Deputy Director of BIFF, former Festival Director Lee Yong-kwan, and Former Deputy Director Jay Jeon was inspired by a visit to Pesaro Film Festival in Italy. They realized the importance of an international film festival, and later approached Kim Dong-ho (Chairman of Korean Motion Picture Promotion Corporation at that time) to organize a professional film festival for the purpose of nurturing Asian films and talents. In 1996, their efforts brought about the first BIFF, with 169 titles from 31 countries joining the event.
BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho (left) receiving an honor trophy from Deputy Director Ann Yang of Taipei Culture Foundation
BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho (left) and Taipei Film Commission Director Jennifer Jao
Throughout the years, BIFF has found its own “identity and color,” distinguishing itself from other film festivals in Asia by focusing on the New Wave. Based on his experience of being a juror at more than 30 international film festivals, including Cannes, Rotterdam, India, Taipei, Kim always sought the best way to apply what he learnt abroad to bring BIFF to another level. He pointed out four key elements to BIFF’s success – the “New Current Awards,” “Asian Project Market (APM),” “Asian Film Academy (AFA),” and the “Asia Cinema Fund (ACF),” which have been promoting Korean filmmakers as well as other Asian film talents. Taiwanese directors Wang Shaudi, Lee Kang-sheng, Chang Tso-chi, etc. have all benefited from the Festival.
BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho
The success of BIFF helped promote Busan’s overall cultural activities, transforming it from a “cultural desert” into a “city of cinema,” while the Festival has manifested a rapid growth of Korean film industry, especially in the sales of Korean films abroad. In 1999, the first film commission in Asia – Busan Film Commission was founded, while other film-related associations gradually gathered in the city. Nowadays, nearly 30-40% of Korean films are made in Busan thanks to abundant resource and equipment. It is estimated that each Korean watches 4.3 films per year, which holds the highest record in the world. Kim expressed gratitude for the participation of filmmakers and regional audience who “grew up” with the film festival; without their support, the success of festival couldn’t have been possible.
BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho (center) and the participants of the Forum
Speaking of the Festival’s impacts on the region and the society, Kim emphasized on minimizing the political influence on the festival and refused any propaganda. Even though BIFF had received pressure from China for showcasing the works of certain independent filmmakers in the past, Kim insisted on the principle of staying independent and self-disciplined. As for the upcoming 2017 BIFF, Chairman Kim introduced the new “Ji-seok Award” created in honor of the late Program Director Kim Ji-seok, which will be given to two films selected by BIFF’s “A Window on Asian Cinema” section.
Chairman Kim not only brought BIFF to the world’s stage, but also keeps paying attention to emerging Taiwanese filmmakers and their works since the Taiwanese New Wave in the 80s. From 1996 to 2016, a total of 204 Taiwanese films were screened at BIFF, while there will be 8 ones this year. Kim still remembered watching Ah Chung by director Chang Tso-chi in 1996, while Hou Hsiao-hsien, a frequent guest at BIFF, had invited 40-50 Taiwanese filmmakers to join the festival. Besides, BIFF had held a retrospective of Edward Yang’s works in honor of his achievements. Kim finds the profound culture and tradition in Taiwanese films most appealing, yet he pointed out that more support from the government is needed for the future of Taiwanese films in the face of limited market -- how to sell the films of young filmmakers abroad has become the most urgent issue.
(from left) BIFF Founder-Chairman Kim Dong-ho, Deputy Director Ann Yang of Taipei Culture Foundation, and TFC Director Jennifer Jao
Chairman Kim commented on the close relationship between Korean and Taiwanese filmmakers, wishing to see more collaboration in the future. As for himself, he regards 2017 as the end of his professional career, but would like to make a feature film and have it screened during the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.
Debuted in 2014 and now entering its 4th edition, the 2017 TFA presents to audience series of workshops and forums targeting film talents in Taiwan, ranging from “Cinema Master Forum” (Sep 18th), “Screenwriters’ Forum” (Sep 19th), “Filmmakers’ Workshop” (Sep 20th –23rd), the brand new “Legal Aspects of Filmmaking and Marketing Forum” (Sep 28th), “International Animation and Special Effects Forum” (Oct 2nd). TFA aims to give the Taiwanese film professionals a profound opportunity to learn from the best and highly experienced lecturers while getting well connected to international market and to broadening their filmmaking horizons.