By Kim Tae-jong
Offering a wide mix of unusual and bizarre movies, the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) will kick off on July 13.
Will the festival be able to successfully celebrate its 10th edition and settle a two-year-long problem?
"We've made every possible effort to normalize the festival", Lee Jang-ho
, new festival director of PiFan, said on June 20 during a news conference in Seoul. "We hope the relationship with the local film people will improve".
The annual festival has gradually expanded its scope and scale. But since 2004, fans and people from the local film industry have turned away from the festival.
The problem arose when PiFan's organizing committee dismissed its festival director Kim Hong-jun in 2004 during his tenure without a proper explanation for it. In retaliation, the former staff members along with Kim last year held their own festival, the Real Fantastic Film Festival, in Seoul at the same time as PiFan as a symbolic gesture to protest against problems with the Puchon festival.
Members of the local film industry including directors Park Chan-wook
), Bong Joon-ho
) and actors Choi Min-sik
), Lee Young-ae
("Jewel In the Palace" - "Dae Jang Geum"
) and Sol Kyung-gu
") boycotted the Puchon festival. Last year's festival had to program just a few local films.
To normalize the festival, the organizing committee appointed filmmaker Lee, who also served as the first festival director of PiFan, as the festival director in hopes that he can heal wounds by drawing on his personal relationships with people in the film industry.
The Puchon mayor, who serves as chairman of the festival committee, made an unofficial apology earlier this year for the dismissal of Kim, and the organizing committee dismantled the board of directors to guarantee independence in festival management as well as changing the policies regarding the festival's organization.
But members of the film industry remain skeptical.
In their official statement issued on June 30, they said that they would keep an eye on the festival to see if the city government threatens its independence.
"We will see how the 10th festival is run, and we will take action depending on the result. They are making an effort to normalize the festival, but there are still possibilities that the city government could damage the independence of the festival".
Apart from the efforts to normalize relationships with the film people, the festival also aims to gain back its popularity with festival goers with richer programs and interesting events.
The festival will screen 251 films from 35 countries in 10 days in various venues including Puchon City Hall, Puchon Civil Auditorium and Puchon CGV multiplex theaters.
The opening film is a local film, "The Ghost Theater
", which resembles the "Rocky Horror Picture Show", and Hong Kong's "Isabella" will close the 10 day run festival.
Directed by by Jeon Gye-soo
, "The Ghost Theater
" is a fantasy musical film, which revolves around ghosts who travel in real and surreal worlds, and the closing film by Pang Ho Cheung, which captures the delicate feelings of the people of Macao when their city state was returned to China in 1999 through the eyes of a father and daughter.
Other interesting programs include "Korean Director's Cut", which collects four local movies and screens their original versions as they had to cut many parts due to strong censorship by the government. They include "The March of Fools"
(1975), "Children of Darkness Part 1, Young-ae the Songstress" (1981) and "Kuro Arirang" (1989).
Other special events to celebrate the festival's 10th year include a workshop program by Richard Tailor from Weta-Workshop, the New Zealand-based special visual effect studio famous for blockbuster films such as the "Lord of the Ring" series, "King Kong" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe".
The 10th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival
When: July 13-22
Where: Puchon, Kyonggi Province
How much: 4,000 to 10,000 won
Info: Call (032) 345-6313 or visit Open the link