Weekends in October II: BIFF

October 6 and 8: Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)

The Busan International Film Festival…is only one of the biggest events in Busan, the pride and joy of Nampo, where BIFF was originally held, and now the Haeundae and Centum City area. The festival attracts celebrities and film makers from around the world…making it almost impossible for me to get tickets for the opening or closing ceremonies. Still, according to my students, people will flock toward the venue anyway, hoping to catch a glimpse of celebrities on the red carpet.

This year, BIFF fell on the same week as midterms, and at my new school I get exam days off! The timing couldn’t have been better. (So technically this post isn’t about a weekend. Shhh.) I saw BIFF movies on two days, once with the Busan ETA and my partner in crime, Nadia, and a second time with my Fulbright coteacher and aunt.

Day 1

Tuesday, Nadia and I went on a BIFF marathon, waking up early to buy tickets that morning (actually, all that credit goes to Nadia, who got them before I’d even arrived). Between movies we whipped out our laptops to work on preparations for the Fulbright fall conference. The day was a surprisingly effective balance of work and play…we just didn’t have much time to eat. Something to improve upon next time. The movies we saw and their countries (plus stills pulled from a quick google search) were:

Dheepan – France/Sri Lanka


The Apostate – Spain (with a guest visit from the main actor below!)


Tangerine – America (with a guest visit from the director!)


This year I felt like I got the whole BIFF experience, as we got to see not only one but two guest visits! At certain showings, there are special guests who hold Q&A sessions after the movie. I attended guest visits with the main actor of The Apostate and the director of Tangerine. For The Apostate in particular, I came to a greater respect and appreciation for the movie after learning about all the symbolism packed into the movie through dozens of seemingly minute choices. These people are on an entirely different level than Hollywood. The guest visit was actually conducted in Spanish with Korean translations, so Nadia translated from Spanish to English for me. The actor picked up on the fact that there were two foreigners in the audience, and said his finals words in English for us (read: me). Being the only one in the audience who couldn’t understand what was being said, even with two languages being translated, was a funny moment. Just for fun, Nadia and I had planned to have me ask a question in English and have her translate it to Spanish, which the translator would later have to translate into Korean, but they ran out of time. Language trolling: fail.

Day 2

Two days later, my coteacher invited me to see a movie with her and asked if my cousin was free. She was not, but my aunt was, so the three of us met to see a French movie called The Last Lesson (La Dernière leçon). The movie was enjoyable and very well done, although sad (as it was about euthanasia).


After the movie we went out for dinner (bossam, or boiled pork). I think both my coteacher and aunt were curious about each other; my coteacher is actually the same age as my mom. We all enjoyed ourselves and there were no uncomfortable or awkward moments. Dinner was delicious, but the night wasn’t complete until we also stuffed ourselves with dessert.




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