The Best Busan Film Festival Movies to Check Out ASAP


At the 2022 Busan International Film Festival, some of the most talked about movies held up a mirror to society. The films came from all over the world, but there was often something universal in the themes they were drawn to: most prominently, the choices women face, or have taken away from them.

The annual festival made a full return after a scaled back version last year (the mask mandate was kept in place, and most social activities were outdoors), and this year’s festival featured 242 films from 71 countries. The themes of motherhood, family, inequity, race, heroism, horror, and the human struggle — particularly for women — seemed especially relevant given the political climate in many countries. It was a reminder that movies reflect our world back to us, and that we often struggle and find joy in similar ways, despite cultural differences.

Here are the best Busan International Film Festival movies worth checking out as soon as they find a home near you.

Broker

Broker is the first Korean movie by Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu, who won the Palme d′Or with Shoplifters at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The film stars veteran actor Song Kang-Ho (Parasite) who took home the Best Actor Award at Cannes this year for his portrayal as a kind and winsome broker of babies he steals from a baby drop box at a Busan church to sell on the black market for adoption. But when a baby’s mother, played beautifully by Lee Ji-eun (K-pop idol IU), comes back for the baby and joins the search for a couple to adopt her baby, tragicomedy ensues. The all-star cast, which also includes Gang Dong-won, Bae Doona, and Lee Joo-young creates sympathetic portrayals of characters who, on paper, commit unpalatable crimes, raising valid questions about who should be a parent and what defines family.

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Ajoomma

A Singaporean “auntie” (“ajoomma” in Korean) is an overlooked middle-aged widow who lives with her son and longs for the escapism she finds in Korean dramas. In fact, her son has booked a holiday tour to Korea to visit locations from a drama she loves. But when he drops out abruptly, she decides to go alone rather than lose the money. Her trip quickly detours from her fantasy world, forcing her into desperate situations. Singaporean director He Shuming said he wanted to make a movie about a middle-aged woman out of regard for his mother and, simultaneously, to embrace melodrama. He cast character actress Hong Huifang, as the lead. The result, a charming tale that wraps restraint and compassion around farce, was noted as a festival favorite by many of the (mostly young) audience. For K-drama fans, there are a few Easter eggs tucked in.



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