Fringe genres take center stage at PiFan

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Fringe genres take center stage at PiFan


Still images of films at this year’s Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival; from left, a scene from Japanese animation film “Gyo,” Indonesian film “Shackled,” British film “Black Pond” and Spanish film “Game of Werewolves” Provided by PiFan

Genre film fans, get ready to indulge your niche taste in fantasy, horror, sci-fi and animation at the 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) this month.

Since its inception in 1997 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi, the festival has provided a chance for fans of so-called fringe genres to get a first look at new films from around the globe.

The festival includes a main competition segment called the Puchon Choice, in which 12 feature and 12 short films will compete for the grand prize this year.

“We prepared a diverse program this year to satisfy both cult genre film fans and the regular public,” said Kim Young-bin, director of PiFan.

A total of 230 films from 47 countries will be shown during the festival period from July 19 to 29. Compared to last year, this is a bump in scale, with nine more films from 14 additional countries compared to 2011. Among the films to be featured at PiFan, 51 will be world premiers, 57 Asian premiers and 19 international premiers.

As one of the oldest film festivals in Korea along with the Busan International Film Festival, PiFan managed to survive a crisis in 2005 when festival organizers clashed with the Bucheon city government, which resulted in a boycott by local actors and directors and key staff. The festival’s director and head programmers quit.

But the dispute was eventually resolved, and this year, the show goes on. The opening film this year is a local horror flick, “Horror Stories,” an upcoming ominous film about a high school student who is kidnapped by a serial killer.

The film features short segments by five Korean directors including Jung Bum-sik, who directed “Epitaph” (2007), and Hong Ji-young of “The Naked Kitchen” (2009) fame, among others.

“Recently, horror films have not been garnering a lot of enthusiasm from the public in Korea,” said Park Jin-hyeong, head programmer at PiFan. “I thought that it is the duty of PiFan to create a new boom in horror films here, which is why we chose ‘Horror Stories’ as our opener.”

In the World Fantastic Cinema, PiFan’s main section, 46 feature films will be shown this year with a focus on South Asian genre films.

“Young Dudes,” a Taiwanese film in this section starring Bojie Wang, centers on two best friends who accidentally start a global phenomenon on Facebook. Wang is set to make an appearance at PiFan along with Taiwanese stars Michelle Chen and Jimmy Lin.

In the Strange Homage section, a new film by Miike Takashi, “Ace Attorney,” as well as “The Suicide Shop 3-D” by Patrice Leconte will be screened. Another notable film in the section is “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir” about the controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski and his dramatic life from when he was a child growing up in a Warsaw ghetto to his arrest in 1977.

There will also be two retrospectives during the festival, including one of Ken Russel, the British director who passed away last year, and a Korean retrospective titled “Wild Laugh: A Certain Wave of 1970s Korean Comedy” showcasing 1970s Korean cinema.

The AniFanta segment will include Japanese horror cartoonist Junji Ito’s tale “Fish Horror” as well as “Gyo,” an animation based on Ito’s cartoon directed by Takayuki Hirao.

Along with the films, visitors will also get a chance to do some camping on the festival grounds this year. For those who do not have camping equipment, the festival will provide tent and picnic table rentals, fireplaces and shared bathrooms. Camping will only be allowed during the weekends of the festival period and up to 200 people can camp at the site per day. Festival organizers have began accepting online camping reservations since Monday.

By Cho Jae-eun []

The 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival will be held from July 19 to 29 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi. Films will be shown in a variety of locations in Bucheon including the Lotte Cinema Bucheon, CGV Bucheon and Bucheon City Hall.

Tickets cost 12,000 won ($10.60) for the opening and closing films, 5,000 won for normal screenings and 10,000 won for 3-D films. For more information, visit or call (032) 327-6313.

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