This past week I got to experience what most people only get to dream of: I attended the red carpet opening ceremony for an international film festival. The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is the biggest film festival in Asia and pulls in films from around the globe. And it’s being hosted only 5 subway stops away from where we live in Busan, so we obviously had to try and go.
We *barely* managed to get tickets. Because this is such a highly desired event, the website kept semi-crashing due to the high volume of people that were trying to buy tickets. Cody and I practically danced around our apartment when we managed to secure some!
When it came to the actual night of the event, we got all gussied up. I’m talking fancy dress, high heels, suit jacket, and tie. We wanted to make sure that we were dressed appropriately for such a big event. Once we arrived at the Busan Cinema Center (which happens to have the world’s longest cantilever roof) the home of BIFF, we were surprised to see that the majority of the audience chose to dress extremely casually. Regardless, Cody and I wanted this to be a special event, and we’re still glad we dressed the part.
The ceremony was outdoors, in the outdoor movie auditorium that BIFF is famous for. Around the red carpet there were hundreds of chairs set up for all of the actors and “important people” set up by where all the celebrities would be walking. The event staff had some free-form jazz playing, which to me felt very “Old Hollywood” and is the exact kind of music I expect to hear when I think of a movie premier. As the celebrities walked down the carpet, there were announcers in both Korean and English to tell the audience who had just arrived. From our seats we couldn’t really see the start of the carpet very well, but thankfully there were tons of cameras that projected the directors, producers, and actors up onto the giant screens.
This truly was an international event. There were three ambassadors to Korea that attended, from the United Kingdom (or maybe Great Britain…I won’t pretend to be an expert on the UK political structure), the United States, and Spain. It was sometimes hard to hear the announcers, but I recall hearing the names of several countries being named off as different actors and directors arrived: China, Korea, Japan, France, Iran, Hong Kong, USA, the Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, India, and probably several others that I just missed in the noise of it all.
But you can’t have an event this big without at least a little bit of scandal. I had heard reports of several people calling for a boycott due to several reasons. There were several people on the red carpet that held up signs saying “I support BIFF.” I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the issues, but you can read more about that here.
After the Red Carpet, there was a traditional Korean music performance. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it sounded really cool. Next up was the actual Opening Ceremony, with two Korean actors as the MCs. The nice part was that on the big screens they had English subtitles while they were talking. There were two awards for film, with some really impressive live translating going on. (Hey, I’m a language nerd, and skills like that impress the hell out of me.)
The opening film of the festival was a Korean production called A Quiet Dream (춘몽). We ended up not staying to watch it for two reasons:
1) The film did not have English subtitles (pretty much every other film featured during the festival does, except for the Korean films) and we didn’t feel like trying to figure out what was happening during the course of a 2 hour film in Korea.
2) We had skipped dinner in order to make it to the event on time, so we were starving and ready to go get some food.
We have tickets to several films during the course of the festival, so stay tuned to hear about some fantastic new films to check out!
Have you ever attended an event like this? Are you a big fan of film festivals like I am? Let me know in the comments below!