The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted film productions, releases and festivals. But nothing, it seems, can get between Korean film and TV fans and their idols, and this week’s Busan International Film Festival is managing to pull off a series of in-person events, despite strict safety protocols.
The first of these, on Thursday, included so-called Open Talk sessions focused on Netflix series “Hellbound” and “My Name,” which are both part of the festival’s new On Screen sidebar. There was another event for sci-fi adventure film “Space Sweepers” (which went straight to streaming after its theatrical release was canceled, but which nevertheless plays at the festival) and an on-stage discussion between top East Asian directors Bong Joon-ho and Hamaguchi Ryusuke.
In each case, venues were filled to their 50% capacity limits. Thousands more fans, many from overseas and oblivious to the lack of foreign-language translations, followed a livecast on Naver Now. Proximity, contact and photos are typically the purpose of many such fan meetings, not meaningful insight or news announcements.
At the “Space Sweepers” session, with director Jo Sung Hee and cast Song Joong Ki (who also stars in current Netflix legal drama “Vincenzo”) and Jin Seon Gyu, song said: “I’m glad to be here with so many seniors from the film industry.” Jin said, “Busan is truly a place where film lovers gather, great it’s by the sea too.” Jo and Song both previously worked on acclaimed 2012 fantasy romance “A Werewolf Boy,” and on stage they joked about collaborating again without another ten-year wait.
The session wrapped with a further round of photo-taking, Song posing, and fond farewells between stars and the adoring crowds.