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Busan Film Review: ‘Glass Garden’

14 October 2017 9:22 PM, PDT

We’ve all been told that the Lorax speaks for the trees, but Dr. Seuss’s mustachioed conservationist has nothing on the fragile, dendrology-fixated protagonist of “Glass Garden.” A pretty, peculiar fable that slowly takes the term “green-fingered” to alarming extremes, South Korean writer-director Shin Su-won’s fourth feature centers on Jae-yeon (Moon Geon-young), a brilliant but unworldly Ph.D student whose innovative research into human photosynthesis leads her on a deranged quest to quite literally become one with nature. It’s a premise that could branch out into any number of fruitful genre directions, from mad-scientist sci-fi to whimsical high-concept comedy to outright body horror. Somewhat frustratingly, it winds up committing to no such identity, though the meandering, melancholic almost-romance we get instead is not without its charms.

Following its unveiling as the opening film of this year’s Busan fest, Shin’s distinctively strange film will receive select festival play, though it’s unlikely »

- Guy Lodge

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Busan Market Holds Firm, Expands Production Support Functions

14 October 2017 4:00 PM, PDT

Busan’s Asian Film Market, which opened for business yesterday, continued its transformation from film rights market to generalized — and sub-regional— commerce platform. It now also contains pitching, project funding, locations expo and virtual reality elements.

Held, once again, within the cavernous halls of Bexco’s #2 exhibition hall, the market does not lack for space. But it may have been squeezed by its temporal proximity to two other major entertainment markets, the Tokyo Film Festival with its related film and ancillary markets, and the American Film Market (Afm).

“My concern was that due to the 10-day Chuseok holiday, the Asian Film Market dates are pushed back right against [Tokyo’s] Tiffcom,” said Daniel Kim, general manager of the Asian Film Market. Tiffcom gets under way Oct. 24-26, while the season’s biggest mart, the American Film Market, runs Nov. 1-8 in Los Angeles.

Despite Kim’s concern, the number of Japanese sales company-exhibitors in Busan has not decreased.

Gaga »

- Patrick Frater and Sonia Kil

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Busan: ‘Butterfly Sleep’ Director Jung Found Upside in Overseas Shoot

14 October 2017 3:54 PM, PDT

“Butterfly Sleep,” which plays in Busan’s prestigious Gala Presentation section,  is the director’s first fiction feature film in 13 years since 2004’s “The Aggressives.” “Melodramas are not in demand in the current film market. But I love melodramas and wanted to make a very sad, yet beautiful one,” said Jung at the Busan press conference for the film. “Since I was a kid, I have read many Japanese novels and watched Japanese films. In ‘Butterfly’ I tried to convey the sentiments from that experience.” Entirely shot in Japan, the romance stars Korean actor Kim Jae-uk alongside Japanese actress Nakayama Miho, who is revered for her performance in Iwai Shunji’s 1995 drama “Love Letter.” “Once I had decided to shoot in Japan, I had no one but Nakayama in mind. I wanted to revive her image as the iconic heroine of ‘Love Letter,’” she explained.

“I had to deliver my direction through my interpreter, which made me »

- Sonia Kil

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Andrey Zvyagintsev’s ‘Loveless’ Takes Top Honors at London Film Festival

14 October 2017 3:53 PM, PDT

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” has won the award for best film at the BFI London Film Festival, the second time that the Russian director has claimed the honor. The film, about a boy who vanishes while his parents undergo an acrimonious divorce, is Russia’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race.

The festival jury, headed by director Andrea Arnold, called “Loveless” a “very poetic and beautiful film, dark and told with a fierce passion. Although the film concentrated on the intimate story of one family in Russia, it felt like a universal tragedy, one that we recognized as one of the world¹s great sadnesses. The filmmaker elevated the personal to a social and political statement.

Loveless” screened in Cannes, and will be Zvyagintsev’s third film to be submitted as Russia’s official Oscar contender, after “The Return” and “Leviathan.” The latter won the London Film Festival’s award for best film in 2014.

At a ceremony »

- Henry Chu

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Five Star Scares up TV Return With ‘3am Bangkok Ghost Stories’

14 October 2017 3:45 PM, PDT

Long-established Thai production and sales group Five Star Production is making a return to TV having focused on feature films for the past decade. It is using the Busan market to launch “3am Bangkok Ghost Stories.”

The now in-production series, comprises 13 one-hour episodes with contemporary tales featuring the spooky incidents that take place in the middle of the night. Stories include a taxi driver who picks up the wrong kind of passenger and a woman whose face suddenly becomes that of a corpse.

“We used to be very involved with TV production, but largely halted that at the time of the Asian financial crisis [in 1997],” said Aphiradee “Amm” Iamphungphorn, director of international sales.

“Now with the changing market for quality TV and our decision to make cinema-quality episodes in 4K, this seems the right time to make a return,” Iamphungphorn said, adding that Five Star is also looking at producing a spin-off “3Am” feature movie.

The series »

- Patrick Frater

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Busan Facetime: Actor Choi Woo-shik Looks to Make a Hollywood Leap

14 October 2017 3:33 PM, PDT

South Korean actor Choi Woo-shik’s career spans indies (“Set Me Free”) to hit mainstream films (“Train to Busan”) to international productions (“In the Room”) but it’s Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja,” which bowed at Cannes and is screening in the Biff’s Korean Cinema Today — Panorama section, which put Choi on small and big screens worldwide in the Netflix film that also stars Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Steven Yeun.

You first rose to fame with Kim Tae-yong’s “Set Me Free,” for which you earned multiple awards including actor of the year prize at the Busan festival in 2014. Have more opportunities arisen for you ever since?

Yes, thankfully. Until “Set Me Free,” I had to pass auditions to [get] roles but fortunately, these days there are quite a few roles that I am offered directly. Yeon Sang-ho and Bong Joon-ho had approached me for “Train to Busan” and “Okja,” respectively, [telling »

- Sonia Kil

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‘Ashwatthama’ director Pushpendra Singh reveals raft of projects (Exclusive)

14 October 2017 3:25 PM, PDT

Pushpendra Singh, director of Busan New Currents nominee “Ashwatthama,” has unveiled several upcoming projects. First up will be “Shifting Lines of the Desert,” a documentary about the changing religious dynamics among the Manganiyar musicians in India. The film is supported by Busan’s Asian Network of Documentary Fund. Most of the film has been shot. Singh took a hiatus to shoot “Ashwatthama” and will complete the documentary by early 2018. Singh’s next fiction feature is “Kenchuli,” an adaptation of acclaimed writer Vijayan Detha’s story. Singh’s first feature, “Lajwanti,” which unspooled at the 2014 Berlin festival was also an adaptation of a Detha story. “Kenchuli” is due to commence principal photography in December 2018. Marudhar Arts, Crawling Angel Films and Asr Films, the companies behind “Ashwatthama,” are backing “Kenchuli” and are in the process of securing the $350,000 budget. “Ashwatthama” was completed with the support of Busan’s Acf Post-Production Fund. It will have its world premiere on Oct »

- Naman Ramachandran

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Busan: Premium Picks Up Sales Rights for ‘In the Shadows’

14 October 2017 3:21 PM, PDT

French sales agent Premium Films has boarded international sales on Los Angeles-based Indian director Dipesh Jain’s feature debut “In the Shadows.” The film made its world premiere in Busan’s A Window on Asian Cinema section on Oct. 14, and is a nominee for the Kim Ji-seok award. “We are delighted to pick up this great Indian first feature by one of the most promising talents of this region. Because the story is universal we are convinced it will reach an audience wider than the national one,” said Leslie Saussereau of Premium. Produced by U.K.-based Exstant Motion Pictures, the film is a psychological drama about a man who is trapped within the city walls of old Delhi and in his own mind. He attempts to break free to find a human connection. It stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Shahana Goswami and Om Singh. “It is very challenging to write a character who is psychologically damaged »

- Naman Ramachandran

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Busan: China’s iQiyi Launches Sales of First In-house Productions

14 October 2017 3:05 PM, PDT

Chinese online video firm iQiyi is launching international rights sales for “Blue Amber,” “The Blizzard” and “My Town” at Busan’s Asian Film Market. All three titles are iQiyi’s first in-house productions that the company has fully financed. One of China’s biggest online streaming platforms, iQiyi launched its international rights sales business at last year’s Cannes film festival. It is the company’s second year in the Busan market.

Directed by Zhou Jie, “Blue Amber” was the winner of the 2016 Shanghai International Film Festival’s Siff Project. Starring Wang Zhen-er and Lu Yu-lai, the drama is the story of a widow who takes financial revenge on the family involved in the killing of her husband. 

Originally known as “Even Stronger,” “Blizzard” is a crime action drama starring Nie Yuan (TV’s “Journey to the West”) and Yu Ming-jia (TV’s “The First Half of My Life”). Directed by Jiang Kai-yang, the film revolves »

- Sonia Kil

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Madhu Entertainment Targets Chinese Diaspora With ‘Wolf Warriors 2’ (Exclusive)

14 October 2017 3:04 PM, PDT

Madhu Entertainment, primarily a global sales agent and distributor of Indian content, has now expanded to include Chinese films. The company has South and East African and Sri Lankan rights for Wu Jing’s Chinese smash hit “Wolf Warriors II” and will distribute the film theatrically in these territories. “The basic idea is to target the Chinese diaspora audiences in these territories and give them a big screen theatrical experience rather than them relying on other sources,” said Madhu chief operating officer Hirachand Dand. The film, in Chinese with English subtitles, is currently playing in Sri Lanka and Tanzania and will be released in South Africa on Nov. 10. A deal for Mauritius is being negotiated with the MCine Group, the largest chain on the island. “The film is the highest-grosser ever in China, so we thought it was a great product to pitch to the Chinese [audiences] living overseas,” says Dand. “It will take time. »

- Naman Ramachandran

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Busan: Australian Film ‘Pulse’ Is Tale of Triumph Over Adversity

14 October 2017 3:00 PM, PDT

U.S.-based sales agent Oration is handling rights to “Pulse,” the Australian fantasy drama that has its international premiere Monday in the Busan Film Festival’s Flash Forward section.

The film is an intensely personal tale about a gay young man with disabilities who changes into the body of a beautiful woman, in order to be loved.

It was written by Daniel Monks, who also has disabilities and who also stars with Caroline Brazier. Three years in the making, the picture was directed by female filmmaker Stevie Cruz-Martin. The pair have previously collaborated on several shorts.

“The film raises questions such as how much our bodies shape who we are, where is the line between compromising for love and changing yourself to be loved, and why we fall in love with the people we fall in love with,” said Monks. “It is a parable for young people, queer people, disabled people »

- Patrick Frater

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Harvey Weinstein Stripped of Academy Membership

14 October 2017 1:15 PM, PDT

The Board of Directors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has stripped disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein of his membership in the organization.

The move comes after a New York Times report that alleged decades of sexual misbehavior by Weinstein, and a New Yorker story that brought more disturbing details to light, including allegations of rape. Further accusations surfaced throughout the week.

In its statement, the Academy emphasized that its decision was about more than just Weinstein.

“We [have voted to expel Weinstein] not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the statement reads.

As Academy standards go, it was a very swift response. But it leaves the question of other members like Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby, whose behavior »

- Kristopher Tapley

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Writers Guild ‘Stands in Solidarity’ With Accusers of Harvey Weinstein

14 October 2017 12:21 PM, PDT

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have issued a statement asserting solidarity with the accusers of disgraced ex-mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“The Wgaw stands in solidarity with the women who have spoken out about the abuses they’ve suffered,” the leaders said in a letter to members. “We are well aware of the fact that writers can face these situations, too. We have to find solutions.”

The letter was signed by President David A. Goodman, VP Marjorie David, Secretary-Treasurer Aaron Mendelsohn and Executive Director David Young.

The WGA West has about 9,000 members. The letter was disclosed two days after the WGA East made a similar announcement — and nine days after the bombshelll revelations about Weinstein were unveiled in a New York Times article.

Here’s the entire WGA West letter:

“The recent accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein have opened up important discussions in our community and among our Guild members about sexual harassment. The Wgaw stands »

- Dave McNary

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The Weinstein Company Shifts ‘The Current War’ to 2018 Release

14 October 2017 9:51 AM, PDT

The Weinstein Company has pulled Benedict Cumberbatch historical drama “The Current War” from its planned Black Friday Nov. 24 release date, shelving the film for an undecided 2018 release since the Harvey Weinstein scandal has soured the market for Weinstein Co. films.

The Alfonso Gomez-Rejon film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to mixed reviews, which cited its pacing and length.

The writer of “The Current War,” Michael Mitnik, also dropped out of a panel that was scheduled for Thursday night at the New York Film Festival. Sources said Mitnick decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate to promote “The Current War” due to the scandal surrounding TWC founder Harvey Weinstein.

Though the film could still be a candidate for the Oscars, its removal from the marketplace during awards season doesn’t bode well for the embattled production company, which lost yet another board member, Richard Koenigsberg, on Thursday. For a prestige picture like “The Current War” to turn »

- Erin Nyren

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Vampire Story ‘Day Shift’ Wins Slamdance Writing Competition

14 October 2017 8:33 AM, PDT

Tyler Tice has won the 2017 Slamdance Writing Competition Grand Prize for his vampire drama “Day Shift.”

Tice, an emerging writer from New Jersey, was awarded $8,000 for the grand prize win and $2,000 for first place

in the horror category at the annual awards ceremony Friday night at the  Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles.

“Day Shift” is a character-driven portrait of a blue collar vampire hunting in the San Fernando Valley.

“Before this contest, I was all but ready to pack it in and go back to school,” said Tice. “Becoming a finalist breathed new life into that dream I’ve had ever since I was a kid staring at video tapes in the horror section of Showbiz Video. Winning this Grand Prize is a tremendous honor and inspiration.”

The Slamdance Festival was founded as an alternative to the larger Sundance film festival. The 24th edition of the Slamdance Film Festival will run concurrently with the »

- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Happy Death Day’ Slays With $26 Million Opening

14 October 2017 7:42 AM, PDT

Happy Death Day” is poised to dominate the box office its opening weekend, with a projected $26 million at 3,149 locations, significantly ahead of its initial $15-20 million predictions.

The Blumhouse film brought in  $11.6 million Friday, which includes $1 million from Thursday night previews. Backed by Universal, the horror flick stars Jessica Rothe as a woman who is forced to relive her death over and over again until she finds out who killed her — a gory twist on the classic “Groundhog Day.”

Happy Death Day” caps a tremendous year for Blumhouse. In January, the company’s “Split” launched to $40 million, before ending its run with $278.3 million globally. A month later, the critically acclaimed “Get Out” delivered a $33.4 million debut, going on to pick up $253.1 million in global grosses.

“Blade Runner 2049,” which topped the box office last weekend but disappointed estimates by a significant margin at only $32.8 million, will likely be pushed to second place after only one week, with »

- Erin Nyren

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‘Jupiter’s Moon’ Tops Spain’s Sitges Festival

14 October 2017 5:29 AM, PDT

Barcelona — Cannes competition entry “Jupiter’s Moon,” directed by Kornél Mundruczó, took best picture and F/X awards at Sitges’ 50th International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, which wraps Saturday.

Awarded titles suggest a balance between the author-driven, arthouse genre with supernatural elements – such as The Match Factory’s “Jupiter’s Moon,” an existential supernatural thriller with black comedy touches exploring immigrant crisis, terrorism, and the West’s loss of values –   and features closely linked to more traditional genres and sub-genres like revenge thrillers and horror Westerns. Notably, two main category awards went to movies directed or co-directed by women. French-Brazilian “As Boas Maneiras” directed by Jualiana Rojas and Marco Dutra won the Critics Award.

Sold by Paris’ Charades and premiering at Toronto’s Midnight Madness, Coralie Fargeat’s feature debut’s “Revenge,” a stylish rape-revenge horror thriller, took best director Fargeat snagged the Citizen Kane Award for an up-and-coming director.

A disturbing »

- Emilio Mayorga

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Eva Green Says Harvey Weinstein ‘Behaved Inappropriately… I had to Push Him Off’ (Exclusive)

14 October 2017 3:24 AM, PDT

Eva Green says she was left “shocked and disgusted” by an incident in which she alleges Harvey Weinstein made an inappropriate advance. Green’s mother talked about her daughter’s experience with Weinstein in a French radio interview yesterday, Friday, and having not spoken about it before, Green has now broken her silence.

In a statement issue to Variety she said that the incident with Weinstein took place in Paris during a business meeting and that she had to push off the disgraced Hollywood producer. She added that she had wanted to maintain her privacy but after hearing the stories other women have come forward with regarding Weinstein, wanted to speak out.

Eva Green’s statement in full: “I wish to address comments made by my mother in a recent interview regarding Harvey Weinstein.  I met him for a business meeting in Paris at which he behaved inappropriately and I had to push him off. I got away »

- Stewart Clarke

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Busan Facetime: ‘Omerta’ Director Hansal Mehta

14 October 2017 2:10 AM, PDT

After a decade-long first innings where he switched between mainstream Bollywood and independent cinema, Indian filmmaker Hansal Mehta took a four-year hiatus and returned with the multiple-award winning indie hit “Shahid” (2012), starring Rajkummar Rao. “Aligarh” (2015), starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rao, won acclaim in Busan and around the world. Following its world premiere at Toronto, Mehta returns to Busan with the Asian premiere of Rao-starrer “Omerta,” a film about British-born, Pakistani terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

What made you choose the Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh story?

There are uneasy truths that we usually try not to confront. Omar’s story is one such truth. Governments believe that by bombing entire cities and destroying countries they will end radicalism. Instead we need to focus on individuals like him – educated, wealthy and completely radicalized. I see “Omerta” as a companion piece to my earlier film “Shahid.” Both examine »

- Naman Ramachandran

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Busan Facetime: Director Shin Su-won Talks ‘Glass Garden’

14 October 2017 12:40 AM, PDT

Shin Su-won, one of the best-known South Korean female filmmakers, has been a regular entry at international film festivals since her autobiographical 2010 debut feature, “Passerby #3.” After world premiering her previous feature, “Madonna,” at Cannes in 2015, Shin returns to Busan with “Glass Garden,” which is he festival’s opening night film.

You went to the Berlin festival with “Pluto” in 2013, then presented “Madonna” in Cannes in 2015. How does it feel to have “Glass Garden” open Busan, in your home country?

I feel great that my film opens the biggest film festival in South Korea. Though I feel [sad] about the Biff still struggling, I believe [the] films can be appreciated separately [from the politics of the festival]. Of course I am both excited and nervous to show my new film for the first time and it doesn’t really matter which festival it is.

“Glass Garden” seems to be much more fantastical than that of your previous works.

I’ve always talked about those who are »

- Sonia Kil

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