The Korea Herald


Asia’s largest genre film fest, 28th BIFAN, starts Thursday

By Kim Da-sol

Published : July 3, 2024 - 14:58

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“Love Lies Bleeding” (Studio DHL) “Love Lies Bleeding” (Studio DHL)

The Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN), Asia's largest genre film festival, will kick off its 28th edition Thursday, screening 225 short and feature films from around the world during its 11-day run.

Opening the festival on Thursday is “Love Lies Bleeding,” a queer noir starring Kristine Steward and Katy O’Brien. Hong Kong action thriller “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In” by Soi Cheang will close the festival.

Both the opening and closing films are getting their Korean premiere at the festival. Tickets for "Love Lies Bleeding” and “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In” sold out within 19 seconds and 33 seconds, respectively, of ticket opening, according to the festival organizer.

In Bucheon Choice, BIFAN's international competition section, eight feature films are competing for four prizes and nine short films are competing for three prizes. Genre films that demonstrate a new cinematic world beyond their original style, experimentation and genre grammar -- such as Thea Hvistendahl's "Handling the Undead" and Liao Ming-yi's "Suffocating Love" -- are among the films in competition.

BIFAN has newly added a competition category under Bucheon Choice – AI Films.

A jury made up of AI film industry, AI technology experts and filmmakers will pick the Best Picture and Best Technology award winners, while the audience will vote for the Audience Award from a total of 15 movies.

Among the AI films in competition is "One More Pumpkin" by Korean director Kwon Han-seul, which won the best picture award at the 1st Dubai International AI Film Festival in March. Using AI, Kwon completed the film in just five days.

BIFAN organizers have said it plans to assess films not solely based on the AI technology employed but also on their artistic merit and messages conveyed.

In addition to four other competition sections, including Korean Fantastic, which awards eight prizes from among 27 long and short genre films from Korea, 12 other special screenings or exhibition programs are offered.

The Strange Hommage program is dedicated to introducing restored and digitally remastered versions of timeless masterpieces of genre film. This year, the 4K restoration of “Throw Down” by Johnnie To will be screened. To will be at the festival conducting a masterclass.

A tribute to the late Roger Corman, the master of American independent B-movies who passed away at the age of 98 in May, will feature three of his representative works. Corman served as head of the jury at the very first BIFAN in 1997.

The 28th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival's poster (BIFAN) The 28th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival's poster (BIFAN)

Fans of Park Chan-wook will be treated to a screening of all episodes of “The Sympathizer,” Park's latest black comedy series that aired on HBO. In Korea, the show is available on Coupang Play, a streaming platform.

A number of acclaimed Korean directors and actors will be at 28th BIFAN, including director Kang Je-gyu of “Shiri” and “Taegukgi,” up-and-coming director Heo Myung-haeng of “The Roundup: Punishment,” as well as rookie director Kim Soo-in and singer-turned-actor Ahn So-hee of “The Daechi Scandal.”

Each year, BIFAN spotlights a Korean actor through a separate exhibition, This year “One and Only Son Ye-jin” will highlight Son's 24-year acting career and her next movie. The actor will be making her first public appearance since 2022, the year she and actor Hyun Bin got married and had a son.

The 28th BIFAN runs from July 4 to July 14.