Folk flocked to films fantasticBUCHEON, Gyeonggi
After nine days of futuristic war, over-the-top gore, zombie-creating spores and much, much more, the seventh Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival came to a close last night.
Or at least half a close. The awards were announced and the first closing film, “Cypher” (by the director of “Cube” Vincenzo Natali) was shown.
But tonight, a second closing film, “Yeou Gyedan” (The Wishing Stairs) will also bring the festival to an end. “The Wishing Stairs” is the third film in a horror series about an all-girls high school.
However the festival actually does end, it certainly ends on a high note, with more people going to more films then ever before ― more than 68,000 people and about 190 feature-length and short films.
“Save the Green Planet,” was the big winner, taking home the Bucheon Choice award, as well as the Best Actor award for Baek Yoon-shik. Jang Jun-hwan’s debut film, about a disturbed man who kidnaps a company executive, convinced he is an alien, bombed badly at the box office in January, despite receiving strong critical success at the time. The jury said of the film, “A new cult film has sprung from Korea with originality and cutting-edge black humour.” Other prize winners included Greg Pak’s “Robot Stores,” for best director and best actress, Wai Ching Ho, and “They’re Watching Us,” which won the Jury Prize.
Among short films, Ian Clark’s “Def” won the Grand Prize and the Citizen’s Choice award. Hans Petter Moland won the Jury’s Prize for “United We Stand.”
But perhaps the biggest surprise this year was the great success of the Bollywood section. The Indian musicals ― which combine romance, action, melodrama, dancing and anything else lying around ― played to packed houses, with audiences gasping at the villains, cheering the dance numbers and cooing to the lovers’ banter. The outdoor screening of “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” was the best-attended outdoor film, while hundreds stuffed the Boksagol Cultural Center for the Asian premiere of “Devdas.”
At a seminar held Monday for Bollywood films, the Indian film critic Meenakshi Shedde explained that India is the biggest film market in the world, with nearly 1,000 films made each year and annual admissions nearing 5 billion. Despite having no screen quota or controls, local films make up 95 percent of the market, with Hollywood barely having a toehold. Given the controversy in Korea over the screen quota, Ms. Shedde expressed sympathy for the local film community.
The Indian guests were deeply moved by the reaction they received in Bucheon. “These kids are so great,” exclaimed Mita Visisht, an Indian actress and filmmaker, after one screening. It was certainly the only seminar to feature singing, as the audience urged the various guests to sing their favorite Indian songs.
As usual, the midnight madness screenings were a big success, too. With six all-night programs on the bill this year (up from the usual four), each night was sold out, as about 1,000 young people gathered for some of the most offbeat movies of the festival.
As for the films themselves? The Argentine “Mercado the Martian” presented a wickedly funny satire of the Internet age. The section on Korean horror films from the 1980s was unfortunately cut short, due to the poor quality of the prints. But one of the replacements was Lee Yong-min’s 1965 “Salin Ma” (A Devilish Homicide), a deliciously demented film about a cat demon plaguing a family. The festival opened with the long-awaited animation epic “Wonderful Days,” which was received with mixed reviews and some disappointment. The general feeling was that the story was confusing and derivative, and not up to the film’s eye-popping visuals.
by Mark Russell