Busan’s lovely Haeundae Beach isn’t exactly an October destination – unless you’re bound for the Busan International Film Festival.
Positioned as close to the waves as a massive, state of the art theatre complex can get, the Busan Film Center (the BIFF’s stunning headquarters) is a sight even without the glamorous movie stars and frenzied paparazzi.
The Busan International Film Festival has become a staple on the global film scene, and a favorite among both locals and expats.
The 18th Busan Film Festival
The 18th edition of the Busan International Film Festival will run from from October 3 to 12, 2013. Opening on the first Thursday of October, BIFF will last for 10 days and cover two weekends.
The Asian Film Market and Asian Project Market will take place from October 7-10, 2013.
During the festival’s ten day run, the city hums with cinemaphiles, starlets, screen gods and other industry types. For those familiar with the Asian film scene in particular, it’s a great place to catch a glimpse of much admired film stars and idolized directors.
However, don’t get so caught up in the glitzy scene that you neglect the films. Although the festival is non-competitive, the selections are top quality. The festival opens Thursday, October 3th and over the next 10 days all 36 screens are put to good use. Roughly 300 films from 70 different countries will be showcased for an audience of more than 10,000 international guests and nearly 200,000 locals.
Festival goers can enjoy everything from shorts to cinematic masterpieces. The festival’s many themes range from “A Window on Asian Cinema,” which highlights talented Asian filmmakers, to “Wide Angle,” a category dedicated to animation, documentaries and experimental films.
Guests will especially love “Open Cinema,” which treats moviegoers to an open air experience. All Open Cinema selections are screened outdoors, where visitors can literally feel the ocean breeze. Finally, if you’re not afraid of the dark, the festival’s edgy “Midnight Passion” category provides horror, sci-fi and cult film aficionados a chance to mingle and indulge.
As Korea’s second largest city (after Seoul), Busan offers travelers a wide variety of attractions and activities between films. The Busan Film Center’s walkable Haeundae Beach location makes visiting the nearby Busan Aquarium, posh Dalmaji Hill restaurants and Centum City shopping district a snap. However, Busan is a fairly easy to navigate thanks to a simple, straightforward subway system, and visitors should not hesitate to venture off and explore. The famous Jalgachi Fish Market, Nampo-dong shopping district, Beomeosa Buddhist Temple, Geumjung Mountain fortress and Taejongdae scenic cliffs are well worth the trip.
Getting to Busan
Out-of-towners have the option of flying into modern, convenient Gimhae Airport, or going local with the KTX train or bus system. Either way, Busan is a top destination in Korea, and getting to the city from almost any point in the country is a snap. However, the festival is a big draw and it’s best to make transportation reservations in advance.
Travelers who prefer to be close to the action should check out the plethora of hotels and traditional Korean minbaks near Haeundae Beach. A simple search will literally bring up hundreds of accommodation options, but as the festival approaches expect the field to dwindle. Cheaper hostels are also available throughout the city, and will be a short cab or train ride to the festival festivities.