Bring on BIFF 2013!

Written by on September 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s nearly here! 2013 marks the 18th annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), and the anticipation is building by the minute. Tickets for the opening film, Vara: A Blessing, sold out in just 43 seconds while tickets for the closing film, The Dinner, sold in three minutes 55 seconds. Sales for the general public opened Sept. 26 at 9:00 am, with thousands of would-be movie-goers scrambling online to get seats for their preferred shows. From film fans to stars walking the red carpet, from fireworks to special events, this year promises to be yet another exciting BIFF event!

01 BIFF Poster 18th

Poster for the 18th Busan International Film Festival (Credit:

Since 1996, BIFF (formerly Pusan International Film Festival or PIFF) has delighted movie-goers and engaged film critics with hundreds of international films showcased in Korea’s bustling port city of Busan. For 2013’s festival, BIFF will show 299 films from 70 countries across 35 screens city-wide, including 94 world premieres and 42 international premieres. While formerly based out of BIFF Square in the buzzing markets of Nampodong, the festival has made its home in the stunning Busan Cinema Center since 2011. Nestled amid the shining high-rises of Centum City, and designed by Wolf. D. Prix of the Austrian architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, the Busan Cinema Center is famed for its “flying roof,” which holds the Guinness World Record for the longest cantilever roof. At night, over 42,000 multi-colored LED lights dance along the underside of the roof, reflected against the silver, airy spaces of the building and entertaining guests as they wait for their favourite films. This year’s red-carpet opening and closing films will be screened amidst the lights of the Cinema Center’s outdoor theatre, with 4,000 lucky guests in attendance.

01 BIFF Opening Ceremony

The opening Ceremony of the 16th BIFF, 2012
(Credit: City of Busan,

Read on for more information about this year’s festival, including Events, Screenings, Locations, and Tickets.

In addition to the Opening and Closing ceremonies taking place Oct. 3 and Oct 12, festival-goers can also attend the BIFF Master Class lecture series hosted by prominent film-makers, Open Talks and Meet the Guests: Talk to Talk, where press, fans, and film-makers meet. Hand-printing ceremonies will also honor four guests this year. The Master Class series and Open Talks will take place from Oct. 4-8 and Meet the Guest: Talk to Talk events will be held Oct. 4-6. Hand-printing ceremonies will take place Oct. 4 for Tawainese actor Jimmy Wong, Oct. 6 for Irish director Jim Sheridan, and Oct. 8 for directors Neil Jordan of Ireland and Im Kwon-taek of Korea. Please see BIFF’s Event Schedule for more information.

04 BIFF Greeting Event 2012

Greeting Event for the film Cold War (콜드워) from BIFF 2012
(Credit: BIFF Press Service)

This year’s screenings have been divided into eleven programs: Gala Presentation, New Currents, A Window on Asian Cinema, Korean Cinema Today, Korean Cinema Retrospective, World Cinema, Wide Angle, Flash Forward, Special Programs in Focus, Open Cinema, and Midnight Passion.

05 BIFF Snowpiercer

Still from the blockbuster, Snowpiercer
(Credit: BIFF Press Service)

This year’s Gala Presentation features six of the year’s most moving and anticipated films, including the blockbuster Snowpiercer. New Currents will showcase 12 films embracing bold technical experimentation and exploration of social issues while A Window on Asian Cinema will screen independent and local films from 16 different countries. Korean Cinema Today will showcase 14 works by leading Korean film professionals and this year’s Korean Cinema Retrospective, titled, “Fly High, Run Far: The Making of Master Im Kwon-taek” will explore nine works by the world-renowned director who will also be honored at a hand-printing ceremony on Oct. 8. The World Cinema program will feature 51 films from around the world while the Wide Angle program will bring light to some of the best alternative films, including documentaries, shorts, and animations each divided by genre. Flash Forward will unveil the works of promising new directors while the Special Programs in Focus has been sub-divided into three categories: Unknown New Wave Central Asian Cinema; Rogues, Rebels and Romantics: A Season of Irish Cinema; and Park Cheol-soo Special Commemoration: Eternal Movie Youth, honoring the late director. Finally, Open Cinema screenings will take place at the Busan Cinema Center’s outdoor screen and Midnight Passion will play three films back-to-back for late-night film lovers.

06 BIFF Im Kwon Taek

This year’s Korean Cinema Retrospective will pay tribute to director Im Kwon-taek
(Credit: BIFF Press Service)

Films and events will take place at the Busan Cinema Center, and special events such as the Hand-Printing Ceremonies and Open Talks will take place at Haeundae BIFF Village, a retreat for all things related to the film festival stationed on the city’s famous white-sand beach. Films will be screened at eight venues between Centum City and Haeundae, all accessible by bus, subway, or the BIFF Shuttle, with more information on the BIFF Venue Maps page. At the other end of the city the original home of the film festival, BIFF Square is destination that must not be missed. Home to the city’s Walk of Fame and located just minutes away from the city’s famous fish market, traditional markets, and shopping streets, this area is a favourite destination of tourists and locals alike.

Tickets can be purchased from Sept. 26 until Oct. 12. Buy online from the Daum website (registration required, Internet Explorer necessary), from any Busan Bank branch between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, or via Busan Bank ATM and phone Banking. Tickets can be also be purchased in-person during the festival period at the BIFF Box Offices, with two branches at the Busan Cinema Center and a third in front of Shinsegae Department Store, all located in Centum City. Other locations are available in Centum City and Haeundae for ticket pick-up only. For more information, please check BIFF Ticketing Information.

With only one week left until the opening of the festival, which films are you most excited to see and which events do you hope to attend? Please be sure to check The Korea Blog for further coverage of the 2013 Busan International Film Festival events and films!

About the Author

Jessica Steele

Jessica Steele is a Canadian expat teaching, writing, and adventuring in Busan, South Korea. She has lived in Korea for nearly four years, but her travels aren’t finished yet. Her favourite things in Korea are the festivals, neon lights, and of course, kimchi.