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Asia's top film festival opens in shadow of Parasite

  • Published at 10:18 pm October 1st, 2019
WEB_ AR Rahman
AR Rahman will appear at the opening ceremony of BIFF Reuters

Bong Joon-ho's darkly comic tale of class war in the Seoul suburbs won the Palme D'or for best film at Cannes and is firming as an Oscar favourite next year, in what would be the first ever win for a Korean film

Organisers of Asia's top film festival, which opens in Busan this week, warn that a surge of global interest in the critically acclaimed South Korean movie Parasite masks a damaging underinvestment in local independent cinema.

Bong Joon-ho's darkly comic tale of class war in the Seoul suburbs won the Palme D'or for best film at Cannes and is firming as an Oscar favourite next year, in what would be the first ever win for a Korean film.

It has been sold to 192 international markets, a record for a local production, and has already grossed just over $90 million ahead of its highly anticipated October 11 release in the United States. 

The film is a crowning achievement for veteran director Bong, whose works have been lauded by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and two-time collaborator Tilda Swinton. 

His work has long been championed by the Busan International Film Festival, a gala event dedicated to both unearthing new independent Asian talent and connecting emerging filmmakers with financiers.

But Parasite's breakout success hides a crisis in the local film industry at large, said Nam Dong-chul, programme director at BIFF.

Nam said investors and cinema chains needed to help smaller independent productions find an audience in a market dominated by Hollywood-funded blockbusters.

"We have indeed been lazy with building a strong foothold where new talents can blossom," he said. "We can take advantage of opportunity only when independent and art films have a stable market share."

Star-studded programme

Bong is not slated to appear at BIFF this year as he tours the world promoting his latest work, but the spotlight will shine on an impressive collection of acclaimed international award winners.

Call Me By Your Name, star Timothee Chalamet and Indian Oscar winner AR Rahman of Slumdog Millionaire are expected to either grace the red carpet during the opening gala on Thursday or make an appearance in the days that follow.

BIFF runs from October 3 to 12 and features 303 films from 85 countries.

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