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Asia’s biggest film fest opens as a shadow of its usual self

Asia’s biggest annual film festival started in South Korea Wednesday at a fraction of its usual scale, but some movie fans will still be able to attend screenings despite the coronavirus forcing many events online.

Asia’s biggest film fest opens as a shadow of its usual self
The coronavirus has forced events at this year’s Busan International Film Festival, the largest event of its kind in Asia, to be scaled down. AFP
The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) usually sees a host of stars and industry players from Asia and elsewhere descend on the port city for 10 days of critical consideration and financial deal-making.

But strict conditions imposed this year because of the pandemic mean there will be no opening ceremony, and no red-carpet parades, after-parties, or outdoor fan events.

The fact it is taking place at all, however, is a bonus, as many international festivals have gone online-only and some—such as Cannes—have been canceled altogether.

This year marks the festival’s 25th anniversary and comes after home-grown director Bong Joon-ho’s historic Oscar win for the dark comedy “Parasite” in February— the first time a foreign-language film has won top accolades.

Around 190 movies will be shown at this year’s festival and only once each, compared to the typical 300-odd films played multiple times—an 80 percent cut in total screenings.

Those attending will have to wear masks, while social distancing will be enforced by making available only a quarter of theatre seats. 

Topics: annual film festival , Busan International Film Festival , coronavirus disease , “Parasite”

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