The 2016 Busan International Film Festival's Vision Awards for new independent films stayed close at home, with most prizes going to debut features from South Korean filmmakers.
Three prominent Korean film critics, Jung Sung-il, Huh Moonyoung and Kim Haery, served as the judges.
The two Vision Director awards, each accompanied by a cash prize of about $5,000, went to Autumn, Autumn by Jang Woojin and Hyeon's Quartet by Ahn Seonkyung, both from South Korea. Judges praised Jang for creating a "dichotomy between artificial composition and natural liveliness" in his film about a young woman hoping to leave her hometown for the big city, and Ahn's "profound observation of objects that bring the script to life" in her story about four actors creating characters based on themselves for a workshop.
The Daemyung Culture Wave Award, which is annually co-sponsored by Daemyung Holdings to expand the distribution opportunity for Korean independent films, went to Yongsoon, the first feature film by Shin Joon. "The film skillfully features the emotions of an adolescent girl who discovers young love and consequently grows because of it," said the judges. The director was awarded $20,000 along with distribution support for his film about a teenage girl who falls in love with her teacher.
The CGV art-house award, through which Korea's top cinema chain CJ CGV provides distribution and screening opportunities, went to Jane, the first feature by South Korea's Cho Hyunhoon. "The film leaves us with afterimages that are unlikely to be forgotten," said the judges, also expressing "the hope that such a film will be introduced to more audiences." The film was created with support from the Korean Film Council's Independent Film Fund.
Busan citizens handed the Citizen Critics' award, which is accompanied by a grant of about $10,000 for the purpose of assisting the winner's next production, to Jamsil by Lee Wanmin, also from South Korea. The citizen judges praised the work's "creative composition" and the director's "great potential."
The Busan Cinephile Award, which comes with about $5,000, another prize given by a non-professional jury, went to The Apology by Canada's Tiffany Hsiung, a documentary about women forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels during World War II. The issue remains a big political topic in Korea. "This film strives to bring dignity to the international human rights issue of 'comfort women' through the voices of three elderly women from the Philippines, China, and Korea," said the panel of judges, which consists of students from the film-related departments of seven universities in the Busan region.
Merry Christmas Mr. Mo, which marks the feature debut of South Korea's Lim Dae Hyung, was selected for the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award from the international organization that is devoted to the distribution and screening of Asian films. Judges said the filmmaker "ingeniously harmonizes classical silent film with intense acting, delightful humor, gloomy loneliness, and captivating love."
The FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) award, which is awarded to a piece with experimental and progressive spirit, was given to White Ant by Taiwan's Chu Hsien-Che. Judges said the film's "creativity and bold visual style enables audiences to feel characters' pain at a profound level."