Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thessaloniki Film Festival Honors Pusan and KOFIC presents reform plan to culture ministry

As the Thessaloniki International Film Festival waits on its own government to see its new policies toward the film industry, currently undergoing its own changes, and while TIFF's numerous activities seem to be making it the center of the Greek film industry, it honored and awarded Mr. KIM Dong-Ho, the founder of Pusan International Film Festival for his innovative and creative activities over the past 13 years working to establish Pusan as Korea's film capital. His address was eloquent and enlightening.

While in 1926 the first films were produced in Pusan, in 1945 [he did not say this, but I would note it here: "In 1945 when the U.S. army occupied the former Japanese colony of South Korea..."] theaters closed and no writers, directors, producers worked in Pusan. Every aspect of the film industry moved to Seoul, including publishing and all cultural events, creating a vacuum, or cultural wasteland in Pusan.

In 1996 Pusan International Film Festival was founded and the film industry began to reestablish its roots in Pusan.
  • In 1998 Rotterdam Cinemart -- which was formerly headed by Wouter Barendrect, the man credited with bringing Asian films to the west -- began working with PPP which essentially brought the western "players" to the east to participate in international co-productions originating in the east.
  • Pusan's Film Commission was the first in Asia to have an organized effort to bring production to locations in Pusan.
  • Extensive studio facilities continue to be built in Pusan.
  • Exports of Korean films expanded from $50 millon in 1996 to $76 million in 2005.
  • The market share of Korean films in Korea rose from 20% in 1996 to 60% in 2008.
  • Profits from the business have been reinvested in training the upcoming generations in film and in promotion of the Korean film industry.

  • And as announced in the following article in Screen Daily, (KOFIC presents reform plan to culture ministry News Screen: "The Korean Film Council (KOFIC), led by recently-appointed chairman CHO Hee-moon, reported on a plan for reform today (November 11) to the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, YOO In-chon." ) "According to an initiative to move government offices out of Seoul, KOFIC is now scheduled to move its offices to Busan by December 2012. It is due to sell its main office building in Hongneung and the Seoul Studio Complex in Namyangju by December 2011, while keeping the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) building in the Hongdae neighborhood only to re-educate and train film industry workers. "

The remainder of Screen's article leaves me wondering at the political implications of the article and which players are right, left, like-minded (with my concerns and Pusan's). However, the points made after the dizzyfying rhetoric (here quoted: The government-funded organisation has recently been suffering through what the labour union called “KOFIC’s greatest crisis” before and after the exit of its much-criticised former chairman KANG Han-sup. The problems included the staff’s weak performance evaluation and attacks from veteran filmmakers on what they called “leftist favoritism” in the years before Korea’s current right-wing administration took over. ) are important points:

I hope I will be able to speak with KIM Dong-Ho before he leaves today. If I do, this article will be revised.

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