The flick is a stirring and beautifully acted drama about the plight of a family of Afghan refugees living in Iran, realized with great economy and emotional power.
The Kim Jiseok Award created this year to honor a late BIFF programmer by the same name jointly went to Mahmoudi's feature film and Zhang Wei's 'The Rib'.
Typhoon Kong-rey forced BIFF to cancel or relocate some of its events indoors right after the film festival opened on October 4. Despite it, however, the 23rd BIFF drew a total of 195,081 attendees — up from 192,991 recorded last year — before the festival closed its 10-day schedule.
This year's event hosted 324 films from 79 countries, led by the opening film 'Beautiful Days'. The numbers were also up from last year's 300 films from 76 countries.
A total of 115 of this year's invited films world premiered at BIFF.
The top awards in the main competition category, the New Currents Award, went to 'Savage' by Chinese director Cui Si Wei and 'Clean Up' by Korean director Kwon Man-ki.
'Savage' depicts a grueling confrontation between a policeman and a group of criminals against the background of snow-topped Mount Paektu, exploring the human instinct to survive in extreme situations and blurring the line between who is good and evil.
'Clean Up' is a story of a woman who lost her son. She meets a homeless man while she makes efforts to overcome her son's death. The meeting conjures up the long-forgotten memory of her dark history, bringing to the fore a question of salvation and forgiveness.
The BIFF Mecenat Award was given to James T. Hong's 'Opening Closing Forgetting' and Park Kyung-kun's 'Army', while Kwon Sung-mo and Ashish Pandey took Sonje Award with their 'Cat Day Afternoon' and 'Nooreh' respectively.
BIFF is at crossroad "in our efforts to find out whether we should come up with a set of formats of what we have done for the past 23 years", Lee Yong-kwan, the chairman of the festival's board of directors, said.
"The most difficult task of all is defining what it means to host an offline festival at a time of prevalent online (entertainment)," he added.
"(BIFF) needs to find ways to maintain its lead locally and globally at time when Asia is shedding its presence at the fringes of the West and becoming the center," Lee said, adding that the Busan festival also need to find its competitive edge over rival film festivals in Beijing and Tokyo.
The festival's 23rd edition opened Oct. 4 as Typhoon Kong-rey approached the South Korean port city and wrapped up on October 13.