Busan Festival’s Kim Ji-seok Award Poised to Be More Competitive

New features by some of the most prominent filmmakers from the Asia-Pacific region including The Philippines’ Brillante Mendoza , Bangladesh’s Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Japan’s Ogigami Naoko are among the seven titles competing for the Kim Jiseok Award at the upcoming 26th Busan International Film Festival (Oct. 6-16, 2021). Works by Royston Tan from Singapore, China’s Wang Qi, Aparna Sen from India and Ilgar Najaf from Azerbaijan have also been nominated. The award was created in 2017 to commemorate Kim Jiseok, the late program director of the festival.

"Les Misérables." Hugh Jackman lost considerable weight and went 36 hours without water, causing him to lose water weight around his eyes and cheeks, giving him the gaunt appearance of a prisoner. He also grew a real scraggly beard for scenes of Valjean as a prisoner, though mercifully they were shot first in production and he could shave and return to his usual weight for scenes playing Valjean as a wealthy man. '

Competition for the award that features titles from the festival’s A Window on Asian Cinema section is “expected to be more competitive than usual” due to the inclusion of works by internationally-renowned filmmakers that make the section less experimental, organizers said on Monday. Among the nominated films are “Gensan Punch” by Cannes best director winner Mendoza (“Kinatay,” “Ma’ Rosa”), which is based on true stories about a handicapped athlete’s battle against discrimination to become a professional boxer, and “24,” Tan’s (“3688,” “12 Lotus”) latest work that offers a different take on Singapore’s rigid culture.

"Melancholia." During the Cannes Film Festival press conference for the film, Lars von Trier responded to a question about the use of Wagner's music, by calling himself a Nazi, and saying that he sympathized with Hitler. Despite apologizing for his remarks, he was banned from the remainder of the festival, and declared a persona non grata by festival organizers, a first in the history of the festival.

Ogigami (“Close-Knit,” “Glasses”) competes with “Riverside Mukolitta,” a dramedy that follows the journey of a young man who has a criminal record settling in a fishing village. “Sughra’s Sons” by Najaf (“Pomegranate Orchard,” “Buta”) is a black-and-white feature revolving around the lives of a family in a Communist collective farm. Veteran director-actress Sen (“Ghawre Bairey Aaj,” “Sonata”) brings drama “The Rapist,” her 16th title to the festival. “The Bargain,” a family drama by Wang, and “No Land’s Man,” a drama that deals with hate crime and discrimination by Farooki (“Television”), a leading figure in Bangladesh’s New Wave movement, are also among the shortlisted films.

"The Terminator." Arnold Schwarzenegger worked with guns every day for a month to prepare for the role. The first two weeks of filming he practiced weapons stripping and reassembly blindfolded until the motions were automatic, like a machine. He spent hours at the shooting range and practicing with different weapons without blinking or looking at them when reloading or cocking. He also had to be ambidextrous.

Iranian director Reza Mirkarimi is the head of a jury that also includes film critic Gulnara Abikeyeva from Kazakhstan and Kim Haery, a Korean film critic. Two award recipients will be selected and each will be presented a cash prize of $10,000. Results will be announced during the festival’s closing ceremony.