Movies tend to create and pursue fantasy, offering a much-needed reprieve for people sick and tired of their unbearably boring and mundane lives.
This general perception takes on a special meaning when it comes to the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival which kicks off its 10-day run today.
The eight annual film festival, also known as PiFan, showcases 261 films from 32 countries under the theme of "Love, Fantasy and Adventure", featuring a wide range of alternative films in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
PiFan uses the cultural city of Puchon as its base, with venues scattered throughout the city and Gyeonggi Province, including Bucheon Citizen's Hall, Boksagol Cultural Center and Bucheon City Hall.
The festival has expanded its coverage and influence, especially among Seoul residents, thanks to Puchon's close location, and a growing number of moviegoers in search of non-mainstream works are showing interest in PiFan and its unusual selections.
Notably, both opening and closing films this year come from the horror genre. The opening film is "King of the Ants" by Stuart Gorden, which dissects the dark side of human nature. Gorden grabbed the attention of critics with "Re-Animator" (1986), a film featuring a severed head attempting to get intimate with a shackled female love interest.
, which will close the film festival, is the latest work of director Ahn Byeong-ki
, who remains faithful to the principles of the horror genre. "Bushinsaba" is about a female high school student implicated in a series of horrific deaths. Ahn made his directorial debut with "Nightmare" in 2000 and this, and his next film "Phone"
in 2002, were the closing films of the fourth and sixth PiFan, respectively.
In the competitive "Puchon Choice" section, 18 feature and short films will vie for awards, including "Undead", an Australian zombie flick directed by Peter and Michael Spierig.
Notably, Puchon Choice does not have any features from the United States, although its lineup includes a wide range of works from Japan to Thailand to Brazil.
The non-competitive "World Fantastic Cinema" section peddles an assortment of mainstream entertainment and independent spirit with 46 feature films. Drawing attention is "Lethal Dose (LD50)" directed by Simon De Selva, a psychological horror that illustrates selfishness and other human emotions through a group of animal activists.
In addition, "The Night of Bad Taste" by director Jan Doense of the Netherlands will be a world premiere at Puchon. This completely new fourth edition provides a rich harvest of controversial trailers and film fragments based on months of investigation in film archives and private collections throughout Europe.
For this year's Korean cinema retrospective, PiFan presents a restored version of "An Empty Dream" by Yu Hyun-mok
. The currently preserved print has the last 10 minutes of sound film missing. With music director Jo Seong-woo
's new original score, PiFan has completed a "creative" restoration of a masterpiece that has not been seen for 40 years.
Other attractions include "Pioneers of Japanese Animation: From Tekobo to Momotaro", "Welcome to Tromaville!: 30 Years of Reel Independence" and "The Shaw Brothers Retrospective II: An Ode to the Twilight".
Tickets may be reserved by visiting the PiFan Web site at www.pifan.com. Regular screenings are 5,000 won and matinees 4,000 won.
By Yang Sung-jin