Prior to the opening of the 24th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) — considered the most important annual cinema event in Asia, with 303 films this year from 85 countries — there was concern over whether the current diplomatic tensions between Japan and South Korea would have an adverse effect on the event, which took place from Oct. 3 to 12 in the South Korean port city.

Japan usually has a strong presence in the festival in terms of films shown and guests attending, and over the summer a grassroots boycott of Japanese products has gained traction in South Korea due to a tit-for-tat trade war. So it was significant that the festival not only chose a Japanese co-production for its opening film, but that it also selected director Hirokazu Kore-eda as this year’s recipient of its Asian filmmaker of the year award, the second year in a row the honor has gone to a Japanese person; and particularly significant in light of the fact that Korean cinema is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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