Busan International Film Festival founder Kim Dong-Ho and fest director Kang Soo-Youn are stepping down after this year’s edition in October. Their resignation comes shortly after an open letter from festival staff called for the return of ousted fest director Lee Yong-Kwan.
“Out of the conviction that the festival must be held in any case, we decided to do our best for this year’s festival that is less than two months away and leave following the closing ceremony on October 21,” said the two officials in a joint statement. “We ask for unchanged support and participation from the film scene and all the people so the event can be held successfully.”
Both chiefs have come under criticism from the indie film community for failing to communicate well or stabilize the festival following the fall of South Korea’s ex-president Park Geun-Hye. In October last year, Busan came under fire when organizers were ordered by Busan government chiefs to cancel a screening of The Truth Shall Not Sink, a documentary which criticized the government’s failed rescue measures at the 2014 Seoul ferry disaster. This resulted in local filmmakers boycotting the event. Former fest head Lee was a big supporter of screening the film at the fest, which then resulted in his ousting from the event.
In yesterday’s letter from staff it said: “We ask for the return of Lee to normalize the BIFF to hold the 22nd edition of the festival successfully and uprightly.” The letter pointed to Kang’s “lack of communication and dogmatic actions” as problems. Fest runs October 12-21.