Genre film festival branches out

By Korea Herald

Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival pushes boundaries of horror, thriller, sci-fi

  • Published : Jul 8, 2014 - 20:34
  • Updated : Jul 8, 2014 - 20:34
For 17 years, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival has focused on showcasing genre films, mostly horror, thriller and sci-fi movies.

But the 2014 edition seeks to make progress in a new direction, including more films from other genres under the theme of “Love, Fantasy and Adventure.”

A total of 210 films ― 123 features and 87 shorts ― from 48 countries will be screened during the 11-day festival, which kicks off July 17 in Bucheon, just west of Seoul. 
The 18th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival runs from July 17-27 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province. (PiFan)

A total of 131 films will get debuts, with 43 world premieres, 68 Asian premieres and 20 films being shown in Korea for the first time.

The festival will open with “Stereo,” a thriller by German writer and director Maximilian Erlenwein, which is making its Asian premiere. The film revolves around Erik (Juergen Vogel), who leads a peaceful and happy life in the quiet countryside. But he finds himself in an unexpected predicament when a mysterious figure (Moritz Bleibtreu) visits his house and refuses to leave.

“‘Stereo’ shuttles between present and past, reality and fantasy, as it reinterprets classic genre-conventions,” said Pyeon Jang-wan, chief programmer of the festival.

“The film shows how self-discovery can be achieved through the disintegration and restoration of an individual, and in this sense, the film is a heartbreaking and apocalyptic penitence as the male protagonist fights to escape his unfortunate fate seeking redemption.”

The closing film, “My Ordinary Love Story,” has already caught much attention. 
The world premiere of “My Ordinary Love Story” by Lee Kwon will screen as a closing film of the festival. (PiFan)

“My Ordinary Love Story,” directed by Lee Kwon, starts out as a conventional romance, but ends with tints of mystery and horror. The film starts out with a girl, Eun-jin (Kang Ye-won), who is dumped by her boyfriend. On her way home from drinking, she meets Hyun-seok (Song Sae-byeok) in a serendipitous setting. But as their relationship deepens, she finds out about his hidden identity, which comes as a total shock.

“Through the collaboration of genres, this film begins one way and finishes another, having taken a truly unusual route ― in effect offering a very realistic narrative in an unusual setting,” said Alice Yoo, a festival programmer for the Asian region. “The gloomy terror, spicing up the vintage atmosphere that runs throughout the film will surely be new and fresh to most viewers.”

Last year’s closing film “The Terror Live,” by director Kim Byung-woo, starring Ha Jung-woo, was a box-office hit in August even when the film had to compete with Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer.”

Puchon Choice, the main competition section of the festival, will screen 24 films (12 features and 12 shorts) that represent hybrid genres, including the Korean premiere of “The Midnight After” by Fruit Chan and the Asian premiere of “Open Windows” by Nacho Vigalondo.

Cultural events and exhibitions will complement the cinematic events. An outdoor concert will feature performances by singer-songwriter Hong Dae-kwang, who finished fourth on Korean audition program “Superstar K4,” and Rose Motel, an indie band with a growing fan base, and other artists. There will also be a number of outdoor film screenings, including “Pompei,” “Tarzan” and “The Fatal Encounter.”

Major related exhibitions are the “PiFan Archive,” which will introduce the festival’s 18-year history, “Movie Poster Trick Art” and “Cheongsong Baekja,” which will showcase white porcelain made of crushed stones.

For detailed information and ticket inquiries, visit www.pifan.com.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)