Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Busan International Film Festival

I've always loved films, back home Natasha and I had Cineworld cards and would go multiple times a week. Therefore I was happy that before I'd got to Busan people told me about the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) which happens annually here. We've trudged over the name plaques in BIFF square in Nampo hundreds of times and never really given it much thought before. It's the Asian Film Industry's equivalent of Grauman's Chinese Theatre plaques on Hollywood Boulevard.

This was the 17th year that the film festival had been running for and the tickets sold out really really quickly. Being a little slow off the mark I eventually managed to get my hands on some tickets for a film called Barfi! Which was showing the last Thursday of the festival.

I turned up, dressed normally for what i thought would be a night at a conventional cinema theatre, stupidly not realising that it was an outdoor theatre at the Busan Cinema Centre. Everyone was dressed in big woolly jumpers, coats and blankets and had flasks of hot coffee with them. Unfortunately all I had on was a dress and a thin cardigan, but somehow I managed to sit through the whole 2 and a half hours of the movie.

BIFF Outdoor Theatre
At first I was a little dubious about the movie, someone had described it as a romcom, and I'm not a big fan of those at the best of times, however it was my only chance to be part of the festival so we still went. 

But right from the start of the film, I actually loved it, it was unexpectedly quirky in ways that I could only compare to Amelie. I fell in love with the charismatic main character, Barfi, who is deaf and speech impaired, so uses every other means that he can to express himself.  My favourite part is after chasing the beautiful Shruti through the town, he eventually finds her having lunch with her friend. He mimics pulling out his heart, and offers it to her on a side plate, only to be shown that she's wearing an engagement ring on her finger, so he consequently pushes the plate to her friend instead.

It's set in the 70s but follows Barfi and Shruti over a couple of decades as their lives go in separate directions, but they build a surprising friendship. Their friendship takes a backseat when Barfi ends up on the run as a fugitive with his autistic, childhood friend, Jhilmil who's played by a previous Miss Universe winner.

The main criticism I'd say about the film is that sometimes there would be scenes that were almost so identical to others that it was a bit uncomfortable to watch, mainly for me there was a scene lifted straight from the Notebook, and I know there are a few other similarities that have been pointed out.

The film made me laugh out loud alot, definitely gave me a lump in my throat at times and covered alot of ground. Sometimes I thought it tried to do too much but it was so colourful and I was so intrigued by what Barfi would do next, that the near frost bite was definitely worth it.

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