More people came to the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in 2017 compared to last year's event. The premier Asian film festival drew 192,991 attendees, an increase of 17 percent compared to the 2016 figure of 165,149, according to the festival organizing committee.
This despite the BIFF having been in turmoil in the last three years due to political strifes, such as government interference on films and budget.
"The audience number increased from last year despite various internal and external difficulties. The Busan film festival has begun to grow again. It has been confirmed that the owners of the festival are the audience and films," said Kang Soo-youn, BIFF executive director.
People in the film industry held boycott of 2016 BIFF after they accused the Busan city government of interfering following the screening of the documentary. "The Truth Shall Not Sin with Sewol" in 2014, which focused on the handling of the Sewol ferry disaster by the Park Geun-hye administration.
In 2017, Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the festival and announced that he will support it but will not interfere in its affairs. The BIFF opened on October 12 with 300 films from 75 countries scheduled for screening.
Concurrently, the Asian Film Market, an event of the BIFF, drew 163 film companies from 23 countries.
The New Currents awards were given to "After My Death" by Korean director Kim Uiseok and "Blockage" by Mohsen Gharaei from Iran. The award recognized up-and-coming Asian directors.
Winning the BIFF Mecenat Award were Korea's "Soseongri" by director Park Baeil and Japan's "Sennan Asbestos Disaster" by director Kazuo Hara.
Bagging the Sonje Award was "A Hand-written Poster" by director Kwak Eunmi from South Korea and "Madonna" by Sinung Winahyoko from Indonesia.
Park Jong-hwan won the actor of the year for "Hit the Night" while Jeon Yeo-bin took home the actress of the year trophy for "After My Death."
The Kim Jiseok Award went to "Malila: The Farewell Flower" by Thailand's Anucha Boonyawatana and "The Scythian Lamb" by Japan's Daihachi Yoshida.