Fantasy and horror flicks are often categorized as fringe genres in Korea and elsewhere, but that does not apply to Puchon, a city in Gyeonggi Province that boasts itself as being the heartland of what it views as a fast-growing fan base of those particular genres.
Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival will kick off its 11th annual run on July 12, featuring 215 films from 33 countries. The lineup, slightly smaller than last year, comes with more powerful movies, organizers said in a press conference last week.
"Since we have secured some stability within the film festival organization, we are now getting ready to emerge as a truly international festival", Han Sang-jun, chief festival organizer told reporters.
This year's performance in terms of audience reaction is now viewed as a crucial test for PiFan's overall competence in the increasingly crowded film festival market in Korea. PiFan, once touted as the pioneering get-together of Korean movie buffs along with Pusan International Film Festival, had faced a make-or-break crisis two years ago when the city's administration clashed with festival organizers, resulting in a boycott by local actors and filmmakers. The festival managed to stabilize its operations and regain confidence from local filmmakers last year, with Lee Chang-ho, then chief festival organizer, making efforts to win back the trust of the skeptical domestic film industry and lure back audiences.
PiFan organizers said the festival has cut the number of entries by 36 from last year and instead focused on improving the lineup of films in a bid to regain its standing as the only international film festival in Gyeonggi Province.
The festival will open with "For Eternal Hearts
", a tale of fantasy-laden relationships set against the democratization movement in Korea. Su-young, in his 40s, tells his students about his first love involving a mysterious girl he met years ago. Director Hwang Kyoo-deok
infuses unpredictability into the main plot, posing a question about whether we can draw a line between fantasy and reality, and if so, to what extent.
The festival's closer is "Kala", an Indonesian film directed by Joko Anwar who debuted with "Janji Joni" in 2005 and is widely regarded as the leading next-generation filmmaker. In an obscure city, a detective encounters a case in which five people were killed in an arsonist's attack. In unraveling the mystery behind the incident, the detective realizes that something bigger and sinister is under way.
The festival's main competition section Puchon Choice features 10 films from nine countries, including "13" by Chookiet Sakveerakul of Thailand, "The Backwoods" by Koldo Serra of Spain, "Dark Sea" by Roberta Torre of Italy and "Diary" by Oxide Pan of Hong Kong.
A sub-section of Puchon Choice also showcases 10 shorts from Europe, North and South America, and Korea. This year, the jury will give a special award to a Korean short in order to encourage young local filmmakers to create more fantasy-oriented films.
One of the notable sections is Forbidden Zone, which introduces highly provocative themes and gory images that are usually shunned by mainstream filmmakers. For instance, "Bakushi", a Japanese film directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, is a documentary film that explores the mindset of people who have sadomasochist sexual orientations.
Other sections, such as World Fantastic Cinema, Fantastic Short Films, Family Fanta and Ani Fanta, are designed to accentuate the festival's unique identity as a venue for non-mainstream films and artists. Additional outdoor events and music performances are also scheduled during the festival, which will run through July 21.
Ticket reservations for the festival are available at its official website at Open the link
and for further information, call (032) 345-6313~4.
By Yang Sung-jin