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Rival film fests compete for fantasy buffs

2005/07/01 | 230 views | Permalink | Source

Two film festivals dedicated to the fantasy genre - the Puchon International Film Festival and the Real Fantastic Film Festival - will take place on July 14-23 in Seoul and Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, and online ticket sales for both events start today.

Fantasy films, which embrace bizarre, unrealistic yet highly imaginative themes that often defy conventional classification, have gained popularity in recent years in Korea.

But the audiences remain confused about which film festivals they have to attend, since the Real Fantastic Film Festival has been created by the former staff of PiFan in protest against the problems that allegedly plague the PiFan.

The conflict and rivalry began last year when the PiFan organizing committee abruptly fired festival director Kim Hong-jun, who had led the fantasy-oriented film festival for the past eight years and made efforts to turn the provincial city of Bucheon into a new film festival venue.

A scene from "Night Watch", which opens the July 14-23 Puchon International Film Festival

The domestic film industry is boycotting PiFan and expressing support for Kim and RFFF. Although there is talk of merging the two festivals amid a glut of obscure local film festivals, the two parties do not show any sign of compromise.

The 9th PiFan will feature a total of 172 films from 32 countries on eight screens in Puchon City Hall, Puchon Civil Auditorium, Bocksagol Cultural Center and theaters across the city.

The festival will open with two films "Night Watch", a fantasy action thriller directed by

Timur Bekmambetov of Russia, and "Battle in Heaven", a film directed by Carlos Reygadas, who sparked controversy at the Cannes Film Festival this year with his bold description of sexual scenes, and close with "Open Water", directed by Chris Kentis and "The Wind Mill Palm Forest" by Korean director Yoo Sang-wook. Organizers said the selection reflects the mainstream trend in those who prefer fantasy and also the general public will be able to get a taste of the peculiar genre.

PiFan program director Zeong Cho-sin said this year will feature more films that can attract family audiences, a move following the relatively poor attendance of general viewers from other regions last year.

Along with six special programs and a retrospective, PiFan has four main sections: Puchon Choice, World Fantastic Cinema, Fantastic Short Films, Family Section

In Puchon Choice, the festival's official competition section, nine feature films including "Dark Hours" directed by Paul Fox of Canada and nine short films like "Gas City" and "A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason" will compete.

In Fantastic Short Films, a total of 60 films known for original themes and dynamic expression will be shown to the audiences, particularly the group known as "hard-core fantasy buffs".

Festival organizers said Family Section of PiFan this year will be another small festival in which children are the main audience. For this year's Retrospective, PiFan introduces Go Yeong-nam, a forerunner in Korea's movie town Chungmuro.

Meanwhile, the first Real Fantastic Film Festival will open with "Aelita", a 1924 Soviet sci-fi silent film, and present about 60 short and feature films at Seoul Art Cinema and Film Forum in Jongro, Seoul.

Kim Hong-jun, director of RFFF, said the films will show a high level of quality, largely due to the strong support from local film industry, though the festival is struggling to secure enough funds.

The closing film will be the favorite movie selected by participating audiences during the festival period, Kim said.

The highlight is a section called "Marx Attacks!!!" in which 16 films from such countries as Poland the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Romania. The films contain political messages of the 1960-80s.

A host of local filmmakers and actors including Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, Choi Min-sik, Lee Young-ae and Sol Kyung-gu have pledged to support the new fantasy film festival.

For further information on PiFan, call (032) 345-6313 or visit Open the link , and for the Real Fantastic Film Festival, call (02) 927-8440 or visit Open the link

By Yang Sung-jin

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