A season of film for die hard fans

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A season of film for die hard fans

The launch of the Jeonju International Film Festival signals the unofficial start of film festival season in Korea.

JIFF is the first major festival in this year’s schedule, followed by the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in July and the Pusan International Film Festival in October.

But these are just three of the 72 film festivals registered with the Korean Film Council, a government-funded organization that supports the development of film in Korea.

With so many festivals, it can be hard to distinguish the differences between them.

But Kim Hong-chan, a Kofic official who is in charge of managing local film festivals, says, “The three major film festivals may look the same, but they are all very different.”

“The Jeonju festival is modeled after Switzerland’s Locarno International Film Festival,” he said. “Its main focus is nurturing new directors and introducing digital films.”

“As its title implies, the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is focused on fantasy films. It is modeled after Spain’s Sitges Film Festival,” he continued.

“Pusan International Film Festival specializes in Asian films and organizes the nation’s biggest film market.”

When asked for his critique of Korea’s highly competitive film festival market, Kim said, “That’s a difficult question because it’s a touchy issue.”

Film critic Kwak Young-jin begs to differ.

“If you go to movie theaters, your choices are limited. The films are just Hollywood blockbusters or they are way too commercial. But film festivals offer us a chance to watch a wide variety of rare films,” he said. “In other words, festivals nourish the nation’s film market and culture.”

Still, he cautioned against oversaturating the market.

“If there are too many film festivals that fail to cater to the interests of moviegoers, or if the identities of certain festivals clash, it is problematic.”

By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]
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