“The Cannes International Film Festival fully supports BIFF and its executive director Lee Yong-kwan, putting all our honor on this. Outside forces should not have any influence on the programming of a film festival. A film festival should make its own decision on whether it likes a film or not.”
- Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes International Film Festival
“Festivals exist to respect the authors’ freedom of expression, to offer them an independent space where films can be seen, discussed, sometimes even objected to, but without many form of political censorship.”
“We are on the side of Lee and his collaborators and we hope that Korean politicians will realize that it would be a wrong choice to shut off the voice of BIFF — a voice that, over all these years, gave an extraordinary contribution to the dissemination of Korean cinema culture throughout the world.”
- Alberto Barbera, chief of the Venice International Film Festival
“Any pressure put on BIFF is in fact pressure put on the whole cinema world. This pressure will lead to the pain and scream of all the filmmakers across the globe.”
- Mohsen Makhamalbaf, Iranian director
“For me, the festival is one of the greatest cultural assets of Korea. I hope that the Korean government considers the intervening action towards BIFF very carefully. I risks destroying a solid foundation that it has been building for the past 20 years.”
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thai filmmaker
SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Korea Bizwire) – Heads of major international film festivals and renowned Asian filmmakers have expressed support for the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and its director against the Busan city government’s “oppression,” activists said Tuesday.
The BIFF organizing committee has been feuding with the host city government after it demanded the resignation of the festival’s executive director Lee Yong-kwan, citing “problems” found in the city’s recent audit of the festival organization.
Lee has one year left before his second three-year term expires in February 2016.
The move prompted protests from the local film industry as many take it as retaliation against the director. Last year, Lee refused to accept Mayor Seo Byung-soo’s request to cancel the screening of “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol,” also known as “Diving Bell,” a controversial documentary highly critical of the government’s rescue efforts during the Sewol ferry disaster that claimed more than 300 lives in April 2014.
Founded in 1996, BIFF has grown into Asia’s largest film festival.
Lee joined as the executive programmer in the first year of the festival and later worked as a deputy director and co-director before becoming the executive director in 2010. He won a second term as director in 2013.