South Korea's prestigious film festival closes with top honours for films from Iran and the Philippines.
17 Oct 2011 - 12:34 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:09 PM

Iranian film Mourning from director Morteza Farshbaf and Filipino film Niño from Loy Arcenas walked away from the closing night with the top prizes at the 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in South Korea.

The debut films were part of a field of 13 films from 12 countries in the competitive New Currents section in which first or second films by Asian directors are eligible.

Mourning tells of a deaf couple who drive their nephew home in the aftermath of an explosive quarrel and a fatal car accident. A husband and wife in real life play a husband and wife in the drama, which also won the critics prize. It was one of a number of Iranian films that found favour with BIFF audiences.

Niño is a portrait of three generations of a family fallen on hard times and fighting over a crumbling mansion. The film won several awards, including the special jury prize, at the Philippines film festival Cinemalaya and Arcenas has been honoured in the past for his set design for Broadway stage shows.

BIFF is one of the most renowned film festivals in Asia and particularly seeks out and rewards new local talent, giving it a big following among young Korean cinephiles. Various financing and industry events are held alongside.

One of the stand-out Korean films was the animated drama King of Pigs, which won three awards in all. Definitely a film for adults, its focus is on two troubled men who reunite after 15 years and remember back to their violent adolescence. It is a debut for director Yeon Sang-ho, who made BIFF's 2010 trailer.

In the Flash Forward section, which is for first and second films of non-Asian directors, Guido Lombardi's LA-BAS: A Criminal Education from Italy most impressed the judges. Most of the film's characters are either hardened gangsters or illegal immigrants. Earlier in the year LA-BAS impressed audiences at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it earned a Luigi Laurentiis Lion of the Future Award.

This year's BIFF was the first for new festival director Lee Yong-kwan, a long-time colleague of founding festival director Kim Dong-ho, who has been in charge for the past 15 years. It was also the first year that the event occupied its new dedicated cinema centre.

Austrian architects Coop Himmelblau designed the nine-storey complex, which was widely praised for its aesthetic. But the rush to finish it in time could have been the main cause of the leaking that occurred through the event. The dedicated facility includes four cinemas and is reported to have cost about $150 million.

There were nearly 200,000 admissions by the time the nine-day event wrapped on October 14. The program's 307 films from 70 countries, included 89 world premieres and several from Myanmar.

The winners were:

New Currents Award
Mourning, Morteza Farshbaf (Iran)
Niño, Loy Arcenas (Philippines)

Flash Forward Award
La-Bas. A Criminal Education, Guido Lombardi (Italy)

Sonje Award for Short Films
Thug Beram, Venkat Amudhan (India); Special Mention, DIY Encouragement, Kohei Yoshino (Japan)
See You Tomorrow
, Lee Woo-ju (Korea); Special Mention for Bugging Heaven; Listen to Her, O Hyun-ju (Korea)

BIFF Mecenat Award for Documentaries
Sea of Butterfly, Park Bae-il (Korea)
Shoji & Takao, Yoko Ide (Japan)

KNN Movie Award (audience award)
Watch Indian Circus, Mangesh Hadawale (India)

FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Award
Mourning, Morteza Farshbaf (Iran)

NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award
The King of Pigs, Yeon Sang-ho (Korea)

Busan Cinephile Award
The Twin, Gustav Danielsson (Sweden)

Citizen Reviewers' Award
Blue Pine Tree: Jesus Hospital, Lee Sangcheol and Shin Aga (Korea). Red Pine Tree: A Fish, Park Hong-Min (Korea). Yellow Pine Tree: Romance Joe, Lee Kwan (Korea)

DGK Award
Directors Award: The King of Pigs, Yeun Sang-ho (Korea); Actor: Beautiful Miss Jin, Ha Hyun-kwan (Korea); Actress: Jesus Hospital, Han Song-hee and Whang Jungmin (Korea)

CGV Movie Collage Award
The King of Pigs, Yeon Sang-ho (Korea)