To Mayor Suh Byung soo, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City:
We are all active in the film cultures or film industries of our countries, and we have watched the growing conflicts between your city and the film festival with mounting concern.
In just twenty years, the first nineteen of them completely free from political interference, BIFF has become not only a source of pride to the people of Busan but also a key institution for the film industries of Korea and its Asian neighbors. BIFF is now a world-famous event, and a magnet for film people from all over the globe. One key reason that it has achieved so much so quickly is that it has maintained its independence and championed freedom of expression. We applaud the festival’s determination to screen films of all kinds and its commitment to debate and the free exchange of views and opinions.
Our concern leads us to call on you and the city and not to damage the festival or its independence, and to stop applying political pressure to the festival’s leaders and programmers. The events of the past year not only threaten that independence but also put the entire future of BIFF at risk. We have been impressed by Mr Lee Yong-kwan’s directorship of the festival, and we see no valid reason for him to resign. We also deplore the fact that what seem like dubious legal issues have been brought into the issue.
All of us want to see BIFF continue to grow and prosper, with the team that has led the festival in recent years remaining in place.
A notice posted on the Busan International Film Festival website advises that the letter has been co-signed by 114 people including representatives of Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and other major film festivals; renowned scholars including Jacques Rancière, Tadao Sato, and Jean-Michel Frodon; film institutes; organizations; press; academic circles; and more.
For an up to the minute report go to this post on Screen Daily.