Busan: Japan’s Hirokazu Koreeda Named Asian Filmmaker of the Year

Koreeda, director of the Palme d’Or-winning Shopliftersat Cannes last year, has been chosen to be honored this year by Busan despite a trade spat between South Korea and Japan that has spilled over into the entertainment sector.

The award is given to “the Asian filmmaker who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of Asian film industry and culture throughout the year,” according to organizers.

The director’s The Truth, his first non-Japanese film, recently opened the Venice film festival and will also screen at Busan. Set in France, it stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke, and features dialogue in English and French.

The festival in the southern port city clashed with the previous Korean government over its screening in 2014 of a documentary about the Sewol Ferry disaster, in which hundreds of people, mostly high school students, were killed. Koreeda attended the festival in 2016 as it struggled with political pressure and spoke about the importance of artistic freedom.

Last year’s Asian Filmmaker of the Year award also went to a Japanese recipient, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Previous Japanese winners include anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli and independent auteur Koji Wakamatsu.