Busan International Short Film Festival Forum - Women and the Avantgarde

Speakers , Moderator and Debaters at BISFF Forum
By Moira Sullivan

From April 24 -29 the 35th Busan International Short Film Festival was held in South Korea orchestrated by Festival director Cha Minchol. There was an international and Korean competition and a special program called the Busan International Short Film Forum with a focus on women in the avantgarde. Special focus was on the work of US filmmaker Maya Deren who made films from 1940-1960. The program was entitled "Maya Deren’s Cinematic Universe". Her Chapbook - "An Anagram of Ideas on Art , Form and Film" was translated through a Republic of Korea art grant. This was done by Kim Byeongcheol (Dong-Eui Univ. Prof.) I was invited to speak on Maya Deren’s use of choreography for the camera. Also invited was Eleni Tranouli (a Greek Art Advisor/Researcher).l who spoke about interiors in Deren’s films. After presentations, some provocative questions were asked by Roh Chulhwan (lnha Univ. Prof.), Bang Hyejin (Art Critic) and Heo Eunhee (Dong-Eui Univ. Prof.) Considering that Maya Deren is relatively unknown in Korea this interplay of scholars with debaters on the points made in the lectures was dynamic and occurred in front of young South Korean Students and guests.

Pip Chodorov, an American experimental filmmaker who teaches film in Seoul and Busan and runs a film distribution company for avantgarde work in Paris (Re:Voir.com)  led students in a presentation of films made in Super 8. The film and chemicals to process them were imported for this purpose and the students realized that one cannot erase Super8 film as is done with digital film and came to terms with the nature of the material in a profound way. Also part of the program were presentations on Asian women in avantgarde film.
Hwang Miyojo presented an overview of films directed by women in South Korea  (Korea National University of Arts Prof.).
Ryan Cheng ( Programmer of Kaohsiung Film Festival and Film Critic spoke about Taiwanese women in film. Trinh Le Minh Hang (Head of Vietnamese Skyline Media) spoke about Vietnamese women’s films.

Not only was her work discussed by scholars but filmmakers working in Maya Deren's spirit showed their work. Three filmmakers - Kano Shiho (Japan) , Camille Degeye (France) and  Emilija Skarnulyte (Lithuania) were invited to the forum.  Skarnulyte’s  Sironemelia was about a mermaid who visits a Cold War Arctic submarine base. The filmmaker will be interviewed later in the program. Sironemelia and three other Lithuanian shorts were also shown at the Corner Theater in Old Busan curated by Jurga Sabukaite who also showed her film Une Chambre à Soi. The films were followed by a discussion with Koreans who come to this tiny theater to see and study non-narrative work.
The work of Korean women in the Avantgarde at the forum included Kim Sukhyeon (Experimental Film), Kim Dongryung (Documentary) and Jeong Dahee (Animation).

The Busan Short Film Festival was held in the magnificent Busan Cinema Center with both an outdoor and indoor cinema in this multilayered gargantuan edifice. The Grand Prize winner of the festival this year was The Distance by Iranian filmmaker Yousef Kargar, a film about a friend of a man who dies in a scaffolding accident that returns home to tell his  parents, but complications arise. As winner of the grand prix, the film is automatically entered as a contender for next year’s academy awards.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/02/18
Movie Magazine International