Shaw Brothers vs. Bollywood? Pucheon festival strikes again

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Shaw Brothers vs. Bollywood? Pucheon festival strikes again

If the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival were a music festival, you could forget about listening to classical music. “We’re the rock concert of film festivals,” observes Creta Doehae Kim, a programming director for the seventh Puchon film fest in Gyeonggi province.
The festival opens Thursday with the world premiere of “Wonderful Days,” the most expensive animated film ever made in Korea. The movie, directed by Kim Moon-saeng, had a 12.5-billion won ($10.5 million) budget, and is a love story set against an earth devastated by war and pollution. The official closing film, on July 19, is “Wishing Stairs,” directed by Yoon Jae-yeon. This drama focuses on high school girls, their loves, friendships and traumas. The festival will actually end a few hours afterward with a midnight screening of film shorts.
More than 180 movies will be shown on eight screens in 10 days. Panel discussions will follow screenings. Organizers expect 65,000 people to attend the festival.
This year, the categories are Bucheon Choice, World Fantastic Cinema, Fantastic Short Films, Family Section, Korean Cinema Retrospective ― Horror Films of Park Yun-kyo, Bollywood Special, Focus on Guy Maddin, Glory Days of Hong Kong Cinema: Shaw Brothers Retrospective, Tribute to Kinji Fukasaku, Qatsi Trilogy and Dennis Nyback Presents Vintage American Slices of Myth and Reality.
Mr. Nyback will attend with his private collection of films. The three he’s showing are “The Blaxploitation Cartoon Special,” which chronicles the images of African-Americans from the early 20th century, “Hillbillies in Hollywood,” a comedy musical that draws on material from 1928 to 1963 and “The Open Road,” which uses clips from 1932 to 1973 to depict the American dream.
The Shaw Brothers section will feature two conferences about the producers. “Koreans in their 40s and 50s grew up with the Shaw Brothers,” Ms. Kim notes.
The Guy Maddin section includes five feature-length films, four short films and a documentary about the director. The Canadian won a lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Telluride Film Festival when he was only 39 years old. His films, distinctive and innovative, are styled after German Expressionist movies. They are black and white and deal with myths, in and, in a nod back to old fashioned cinema. His films include “Tales from the Gimli Hospital,” “Careful” and “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary.”
Another highlight is the Qatsi Trilogy. Godfrey Reggio, a former priest, released the first of the trilogy, “Koyaanisqatsi,” or “Life Out of Balance,” in 1983. The films have neither plot nor dialogue, and instead are a succession of images set to music composed by Philip Glass, creating a visual poem about mankind and the environment.
Since the festival began in 1997, it has billed itself as “The Festival of Love, Fantasy and Adventure.” The movies are “about the extremes ― the blockbusters and the art house films,” Ms. Kim says. The festival now offers more of the middle ground, including older films from private archives and not just new releases. “What’s happening may differ with each festival edition,” Ms. Kim says, “but the theme never changes.”

by Joe Yong-hee

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