By Kim Boram
SEOUL, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- Four Netflix original movies have been invited to this year's Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in an apparent move to keep up with rapidly changing trends in the industry.
Last week, the festival announced this year's lineup of 303 films from 85 countries. The list included four Netflix films -- "The King" by David Michod, "The Two Popes" by Fernando Meirelles, "Marriage Story" by Noah Baumbach and "I Lost My Body" by Jeremy Clapin.
The 24th edition of BIFF is set to run from Oct. 3-12 in the southern port city of Busan with Kazakhstani horse opera "The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time" as its opener.
It is the second consecutive year that BIFF has invited Netflix originals to its non-competition categories. Last year, Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," the Coen brothers' "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and Orson Welles' "The Other Side of the Wind" were screened at BIFF for the first time.
"The King," directed by David Michod, is set to visit the festival as part of its Gala Presentation, one of the most prestigious sections of BIFF, presenting notable works by influential filmmakers.
Based on plays by William Shakespeare, the historical drama is about the life of King Henry V of England, who was forced to take the throne against his will. It premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival earlier this month and is scheduled to be streamed by Netflix in November.
Three other films will be in the World Cinema section, which showcases this year's highly acclaimed features including laureates from the world's most renowned film festivals.
Comedy drama "The Two Popes" is based the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, regarded as one of the most dramatic transitions of power in Vatican history.
"Marriage Story" is an incisive portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. Hollywood silver screen stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver lead the cast.
"I Lost My Body," an animated film about the adventures of a cut-off hand trying to get back to its body, was screened in the International Critics' Week section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and later acquired by Netflix.
"BIFF might not be as Netflix-friendly as the Venice Film Festival, but we don't boycott Netflix titles," Jay Jeon, BIFF's festival director, said in a Seoul press conference held Wednesday last week. "As long as the film is good like 'Roma,' we will always screen it. This is why we invited 'The King' to the Gala Presentation this year."
He said the global film industry is facing a seismic shift from theatrical releases to online streaming, and it is the time for film festivals to open their doors to non-conventional content.
Renowned South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's 2017 adventure film "Okja" was financed by Netflix and invited to Cannes' competition section that year.
But the festival later changed its rules to exclude films from its Palme d'Or competition that lack a commitment to a French theatrical release after facing strong protest from the local film industry. Since then, no Netflix-distributed films have been invited to Cannes' competition category.
But Venice was different. It gave its highest award, the Golden Lion, to Cuaron's "Roma" last year.
"In Europe, the video streaming platform is rapidly expanding its horizons, unlike in the United States and Korea, where local multiplex chains have a tight grip on the distributing market," said Jeon. "It's not smart to maintain a conservative approach to the new trend."
The BIFF official said he is even considering forming a partnership with video streaming platforms like Netflix or Watcha, a Korea-based media service provider, to distribute movies that are not popular enough to be picked up by multiplex chains.
Telco-cable TV mergers to reshape S. Korean media market
Roaring K-pop boom reverses fate of declining CDs and other tangible albums
BTS shatters cultural, language barriers with music
Gov't plan on screen regulation draws mixed views in film industry
BTS' global music career up in air as Seoul reviews military exemptions