A film fest cooks a beefy imageAt last, there’s a film festival that puts more emphasis on content than style. Organizers of the 8th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, or PiFan, announced last week that they will skip the “festival lady” ― the widely accepted tradition using celebrities to promote local film festivals. PiFan officials said they would discontinue the festival lady starting this year due to the hectic schedules of actors who were pegged as candidates. Instead, officials will focus on strengthening the festival’s own image.
Indeed, the 2004 festival has won some publicity partly through the design of its eccentric new logo, a cartoon character holding a movie camera known as “the Sausage Brothers.”
A festival renowned for screening fantasy and cult films, PiFan will run from July 15 to 24 this year. Featured are programs such as the “Shaw Brothers Retrospective” and a focus on New York-based Troma Entertainment, one of the largest independent film studios.
The main program will be divided into four sections. “Pioneers of Japanese Animation” features three Japanese masters, Seitarou Kitayama, Junichi Kouchi and Oten Shimokawa, who began producing silent animation as early as the 1920s with chalk drawings on a blackboard.
“Welcome to Tromaville” is a series of independents by Troma Entertainment set up by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, two director-producers who met at Yale in 1968. Since its founding in 1974, Troma has been producing low-budget independents that are intentionally made poorly.
Filled with bitter sarcasm and insane amounts of violence, they often parody mainstream Hollywood films, addressing diverse social issues through the lens of a minority mindset. At Troma’s last screening at Puchon in 2001, the studio introduced legendary cult films like “The Toxic Avenger” series, which will be included in the main program this year to celebrate the studio’s 30th anniversary.
In addition to the “Toxic Avenger” series, this section presents “Sergeant Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” and “Tales from the Crapper.”
“Horror Heaven” presents films by Jorg Buttgereit, a German filmmaker who has been exploring the idea of necrophilia, the obsession with corpses. His first feature film, “Nekromantik,” shot on cheap Super 8 video, has been praised even among jaded horror buffs as one of the finest cult films. Other Buttgereit films such as “Captain Berlin,” “Bloody Excesses in the Leader’s Bunker” and “Hot Love” are also on offer in this section.
A highlight of the main program is a series of action epics by the Shaw Brothers, “An Ode to the Twilight.” Shaw Brothers studio triggered the rise of martial arts films’ popularity across Asia and North America with such titles as “The Assassin,” a compelling story of a valiant champion swordsman. Also being screened is “The Invisible Fist,” a classic battle between the Chinese kung fu and Japanese karate set in Shanghai.
There will be special screenings of films by Amos Vogel, an Austrian emigre to New York who set up a film club called Cinema 16, which today is an influential film society that gave rise to the rich post-World War II film culture in the United States. This section includes a Vogel documentary as well as screenings from his personal collections of avant-garde films, experimental animation and foreign films that were never distributed in the United States.
by Park Soo-mee
All films at PiFan have English subtitles. The 8th PiFan will take place at Pucheon’s Boksagol Cultural Center, Citizens Hall, Puchon City Hall and Multiplex CGV. Outdoor screenings will be held on the front lawn outside City Hall. For more information, call (032) 345-6313 or visit www.pifan.com.