Human flesh dumplings, burning books, techno-nightmares and a little sensitivity

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Human flesh dumplings, burning books, techno-nightmares and a little sensitivity

A trip to a small bar called “La Jetee” in Shinjuku, Tokyo requires wandering through a narrow back alley and then a climb up a steep staircase. It’s worth the trip to see the bar, which is a refuge for filmmakers and other figures from the movie scene. The bar is named after a 1962 French sci-fi film by Chris Marker, and if you tell the crowd at the bar that you’ve seen the film, you are met with a warm smile. But how in the world can one find a film from 1962? The answer is the French sci-fi special feature at this year’s Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival.
The special feature presents a selection of six classic French sci-fi films from the late 1950s to 1970s, including “La Jetee,” directed by virtuosos like Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. Organizers say that their selection is an “intellectual critique of technology” and “a reflection on human beings, society and the universe.” Not all the films come with English subtitles, but Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” was produced in English and is a critical look at totalitarianism in an imagined age where books are taboo. Other films that come recommended include “Alphaville” by Godard, which is about a future city in which people have been brainwashed by technology.
French sci-fi is not the only special offering at the festival this year. There are two retrospectives ― on Ryuichi Hiroki from Japan and Herman Yau from Hong Kong. Hiroki is noted for his delicate and caring way of looking at human psychology and desire, and the festival presents five of his films, including his best-known, “Vibrator.” Yau, on the other hand, brings the audience to a world of crime, blood and knives, earning him the reputation of being the “king of gore.” The festival will show five of his films, including “The Untold Story,” whose original title is “Human Flesh Dumpling at the Ba Xian Restaurant.”
There is more blood in another special program, titled “Collection of Yakuza in 23 Districts,” yet with a different twist. This collection offers a group of short films in various genres including comedy and sci-fi, telling different stories of the yakuza, or Japanese mafia, in 23 districts of Tokyo.


By Chun Su jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]
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