A Korean drama about desperate teens and a movie that exposes the hardships of daily life in the Iranian capital Tehran shared the top prize at Asia’s premier film festival on Saturday.
The two grim tales left award jurors at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival concerned that modern cinema was heading “towards visions of darkness and desperation”.
Korean director Kim Ui-seok’s teen-themed drama “After My Death” and “Blockage” from Iran’s Mohsen Gharaei were announced as the two winners of this year’s New Currents award for first or second-time filmmakers.
Both films were praised for their “vivid detail and excellent craftsmanship” but jurors — led by the Oscar-winning US director Oliver Stone — said they were concerned by how the dramas mirrored the current state of the world “as presented by media”.
“But the jury believes tomorrow’s filmmakers can find more hope and light in this life, and bring it to their films to encourage their audiences to see all kinds of life,” said veteran Philippine director Lav Diaz, who announced the awards.
Along with Stone, Diaz was joined on this year’s New Currents panel by Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, Korean director Jang Sun-woo and French cinematographer Agnes Godard.
Contemporary local politics were also to the fore in the festival’s other major prizes, with director Park Baeil’s documentary “Soseongri” claiming the BIFF Mecenat Award.
Jurors praised its “carefully balanced” focus on a group of elderly women protesting the controversial instalment of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near their town to guard against growing missile threats from Pyongyang.