Iraqi and Vietnamese directors scoop top prize at Busan film festival

Above, a still from the movie ‘Haifa Street,’ directed by Iraqi-director Mohanad Hayal, which won the festival’s New Currents award together with ‘Rom’ from Vietnam’s Tran Thanh Huy. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2019

Iraqi and Vietnamese directors scoop top prize at Busan film festival

  • Iraqi director Mohanad Hayal’s ‘Haifa Street’ and ‘Rom’ from Vietnam’s Tran Thanh Huy, won the festival’s New Currents award
  • The 24th Busan International Film Festival screened 299 films from 85 countries

BUSAN, South Korea: An Iraqi production looking at life in war-torn Baghdad and a Vietnamese tale of a young bookie struggling to support himself and his loved ones have shared the top award at the 24th Busan International Film Festival.
Iraqi director Mohanad Hayal’s “Haifa Street” and “Rom,” from Vietnam’s Tran Thanh Huy, won the festival’s New Currents award, which hands out two prizes of $30,000 to first- or second-time Asian directors, early Saturday.
“The decision was tough and these two films are not first and second, this was not a horse-race,” said New Currents jury head Mike Figgis, the Oscar-nominated director of “Leaving Las Vegas.”
“We saw a lot of great work from young, exciting filmmakers who understand the art of cinema.”
“Haifa Street” was a film with tension from beginning to end, the jury said in a statement.
“This is a mature, grown-up movie and the director exhibited a confidence and understanding of cinema language which set the film apart,” their statement read. “Good to see a strong gender-balanced cast.”
The New Currents jury praised “Rom” for “it’s amazing energy.”
Among the Hollywood stars to grace this year’s event were previously Oscar-nominated Timothee Chalamet, with thousands waiting for his red-carpet appearance alongside co-star Joel Edgerton, before the screening of their new film “The King.”
Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda was in town to collect the Asian Filmmaker of the World award while the Korean industry was out in force, led by opening night host Lee Hanee.
This year’s festival comes during unprecedented interest in Korean cinema, thanks to the global success of director Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar favorite “Parasite.”
That film is rolling out this week in the United States — after claiming a Palm D’or at Cannes in May — but there was a wealth of other local talent on display, with a buzz building around the likes of Yoon Dan-bi’s sweeping family drama “Moving On.”
BIFF had opened with the threat of Typhoon Mitag looming and with hundreds of flights to Korea canceled, but skies cleared and the festival was able to go ahead with a series of outdoor screenings at venues across the city.
“There was the possibility of chaos but in the end there were no problems,” said BIFF chairman Lee Yong-kwan.
The festival announced on Saturday it intended to expand its film funding efforts, including more TV and streaming platform content, and building a Korean cinema museum.
This year BIFF screened 299 films from 85 countries, with 118 world premieres, and almost 200,000 attending across its 10-day run.
The event ends on Saturday night with the official prize-giving, and with the world premiere of Korean director Lim Dae-hyung’s mother-daughter relationship drama “Moonlit Winter.”


Environmentally conscious Coldplay says it won’t tour new album, ahead of Jordan gigs

Updated 21 November 2019

Environmentally conscious Coldplay says it won’t tour new album, ahead of Jordan gigs

  • Chris Martin: We’re not touring this album. We’re taking time over the next year or two to work out how our tour (can not only) be sustainable but how can it be actively beneficial
  • Coldplay will perform two shows in Jordan on Friday to mark the album Everyday Life’s release

LONDON: British band Coldplay will not tour to promote their new album, but are working on how to make their gigs environmentally sustainable, lead singer Chris Martin said.
The rock group, known for songs like “Yellow,” “Paradise” and “Viva la Vida,” will release their eighth studio album “Everyday Life” on Friday. The 52-minute record is made up of two halves, “Sunrise” and “Sunset.”
“We’re not touring this album. We’re taking time over the next year or two to work out how our tour (can not only) be sustainable but how can it be actively beneficial,” Martin told British broadcaster BBC in Jordan, where Coldplay will perform two shows on Friday to mark the album’s release.
“Our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it be largely solar-powered.”
Coldplay will play a one-off show at London’s Natural History Museum on Monday to promote the album. All performance proceeds will go to environmental charity ClientEarth.
“This is expected to be the band’s only UK show of the ‘Everyday Life’ era,” a press release for the show said.
Coldplay last toured globally in 2016-2017 to promote album “A Head Full of Dreams.”
“All of us, in every industry, have to just work out what the best way of doing our job is ... The hardest thing is the flying side of things,” Martin said.
Amid growing environmental concerns from consumers and young fans, several music artists have addressed climate change in lyrics or announced plans to improve their green credentials.
Rockers The 1975 teamed up with climate activist Greta Thunberg for a track on their upcoming album in which the teenage Swedish activist warns about climate change.
“It is fantastic to see world famous artists stepping up to protect the planet,” Gareth Redmond-King, head of Climate Change at the WWF conservation group, said in a statement.
“We all have a responsibility to lead by example in the face of this climate and nature crisis — inaction is not an option if we are to preserve our planet for future generations.”

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