Seven days is all I will have at Busan this year. Next month I jet off, stopping in South Korea - Seoul then taking the ever-efficient train to the major city and the biggest film festival in Asia.
I have never been to South Korea and only know the tertiary niceties so this is terrifying, daunting but wholly exhilarating.
I will be providing hopefully daily updates when I touch ground, highlighting the day and the films I have seen. Crazy, but the schedule is not even out yet, who knows when I am going to see these damn things, but here’s a top ten for you anyway – note, a lot of them hail from the currently running Venice Film Festival, a stamp of quality if I've ever heard of one!
10. Stray Dogs
I don’t like Tsai Ming Liang. The Taiwanese auteur does not usually strike a chord with me, but coming out of Venice with rave reviews and the synopsis alone has piqued my interest greatly.
On Taipei’s margins, a father gathers a meagre income as a human billboard, while his children roam supermarkets to survive off free food samples. On the father’s birthday this impoverished family is joined by a woman who threatens to unlock buried emotions from their past.
9. Norte, The End of History
Norte is a film not many know about. Driven by the ridiculous praise by higher echelon critics the world over, this epic Filipino film clocking in at 250 minutes is a grand take on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that is enhanced by sublime long-takes. A must-see.
A man is wrongly jailed for murder while the real killer roams free. The murderer is an intellectual frustrated with his country's never-ending cycle of apathy. In contrast, the wrongly convicted man finds life in prison more tolerable when something mysterious starts happening to him.
8. Miss Violence
…and you thought the family in Stoker was f*cked up. Miss Violence propels Greek cinema forward with this devastating dysfunctional tale.
On her 11th birthday, Angeliki jumps off the balcony and falls to her death with a smile on her face. While the police and Social Services try to discover the reason for this apparent suicide, Angeliki’s family keep insisting that it was an accident, but what are they hiding? And why?
7. Miss Zombie
Oh boy… a new zombie movie, and from Japan, who freaking excited, right? Right! This is a new work from crazed director Sabu, a master of dark crime comedy, his films are seriously entertaining. This very low budget on the zombie apocalypse is sure to bring a freshly insane take on this seriously tired topic.
Miss Zombie is a low budget independent film with a new twist on zombies, and a philosophical reflection of what it means to be human.
6. Why Don’t You Play In Hell?
This already gets award for most awesome film title of the year, but wait there’s more! Sion Sono brings us a descent into what he does best; insanely gonzo, no-holds barred violence and insanity, check the synopsis.
Mitsuko is a washed-up child star, popular for a bizarre toothpaste ad. She is also the daughter of a Yakuza head man who controls a group of hopeless collective of filmmakers dubbed the F*CK Bombers. They all get involved with a long-term gang war involving her father and Mitsuko’s biggest fan. The F*CK Bombers convince them to settle the dispute once and for all, on camera, in a snuff-like fashion. Blood, guts, violence.
Still confused? Me too, check out this sweet still instead.
Cut to ribbons by the Weinstein’s, Snowpiercer is the latest film from perhaps my favorite auteur Bong Joon-ho. Like his colleagues, this is his first foray into an English production; however it certainly looks way more exciting and developed than the woeful Last Stand and the cold Stoker. This is a truly awesome original take on the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre.
When an ice age overtakes the Earth, everything freezes and in order to survive, the last human survivors are herded on to a train of perpetual motion that continually circles the planet. The oppressed people, who keep the engine running, rise in revolt against armed guards and surge forward to the front section of the train to meet Mr Wilford, the train’s designer and self-appointed ruler who is worshipped like a god.
Picture if you while an extremely disturbed family. The mother past the point of frustration and madness attempts to castrate her husband. She fails and does it to her son instead, and then things get strange.
3. The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
Giallo eye-candy of the highest order, the latest from Belgium partners who bought us the sublime Amer continue exploding our brains with extreme visual horror bliss.
A businessman returns from overseas to an empty apartment and a missing wife in this neo-giallo thriller. As he searches for her, the man plunges into a nightmarish world of brutality and an atmosphere of oppression that he may not be able to escape.
2. Tom at the Farm
Canadian wunderkind returns after the exceptional Lawrence Anyways with psycho-thriller Tom at the Farm. Dolan is so damn talented it’s ridiculous.
Stockholm syndrome, mourning and latent violence permeate a story of lies and imposters. A young ad executive travels to the countryside for a funeral and discovers that no one there knows his name or his relationship with the deceased, fuelled by paranoia and segregation things begin to spiral out of control.
1. Adele Chapters 1 & 2 (aka Blue Is the Warmest Color)
This is it. The Palm D’or winner I have been waiting for. MIFF didn’t have it, or any other festival in Australia. Carried by the excellent performances, obsessive direction and so much controversy, Blue Is the Warmest Color is the film this year I am most looking forward to and will catch at Busan no matter what. Thank you Busan, thank you.
Fifteen-year-old Adele’s life is changed forever when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair. Emma is Adele’s gateway to discover desire, and to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. With Emma, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself, and finds herself.
Well thanks for reading, hope you enjoy my coverage which will begin 3/10, see you then!
Kwenton Bellette - follow Kwenton on Twitter here: @Kwenton
Kwenton Bellette is extremely passionate about Asian film and the resurgence of new waves taking place in Korea, Japan and China in the last 10 years. He joined the global site Twitchfilm in 2009, is the artistic director of the Fantastic Asia Film Festival is Melbourne and currently studies a film masters degree at Melbourne University. He is very excited to raise further awareness of the what he thinks is the most exciting film industry in the world.