The very first film festival in Busan was held on September 13-21, 1996. 173 films from 31 countries were screened. The film that opened the festival was Secrets & Lies by Mike Leigh, and the closing film was In Expectation by Ming Zhang. 224 guests from 27 countries participated in that festival, and over 184,000 people watched the screened films.
Since 2011 the main events of the film festival take place at the Busan Cinema Center, that was built to host the festival. Over 54,000 square meters of the center includes performance, entertainment, dining and administrative space. The performance area is big enough to welcome 4,000 people. Four cinema halls, media center, archives and conference halls allow holding numerous screenings as well as forums, educational events etc.
The program of the Busan International Film Festival is quite rich and it includes several sections: Gala Presentation, A Window on Asian Cinema, Korean Cinema Today, New Currents, World Cinema, Open Cinema, Wide Angle, Flash Forward, Midnight Passion and Special Programs in Focus. Every section is unique and it presents certain movies, thus not a single film is left without attention.
Several festival awards are presented annually. The New Currents Award is given to the best feature film by young Asian directors. The Flash Forward Award is given to the best debuting film or the second film from the non-Asian countries. The best short and documentary films by Korean or Asian directors, the best actor and actress are also awarded, but the number of awards is larger than that, and many special awards are also given to films.
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