"Hobo With a Shotgun"
By Lee Hyo-won
BUCHEON, Gyeonggi Province - The 15th Puchon (Bucheon) International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) kicked off Thursday with a flurry of activity and pageantry. Though wet weather continued throughout the opening weekend, the monsoon rains did little to dampen the festive mood.
The cinema showcase opened with an Indian documentary "Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told", by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Jeff Zimbalist. Some 2,000 fans and VIPs gathered for the opening ceremony, which took place at the indoor Bucheon Arena, a new and larger venue than in previous years.
"PiFan has grown to become Asia's foremost event for audiences and cineastes to mingle together",said Park Bo-young, the young heroine of the 2008 smash hit comedy "The Scandal Makers" and official spokesperson for this year's festival.
Bucheon mayor-cum-PiFan chairman Kim Man-soo and festival director Kim Young-bin welcomed the guests that graced the red carpet procession. Veterans of the Korean film industry such as director Im Kwon-taek, actress Kang Soo-yeon and actor Moon Sung-keun made appearances.
Screen beauties So-ae and Sin Se-kyeong, as well as actor Choi Daniel also took part in the festivity. The latter two stars, who co-starred in the hit sitcom "High Kick Through The Roof", won Fantasia Awards, which Bucheon citizens give to their favorite stars du jour.
Over the weekend, red raincoat-clad PiFan volunteers ushered visitors and tried their best to help but heavy traffic due to the rain delayed shuttle buses.
Nevertheless screenings for popular films were sold out long in advance, including "Invasion of Alien Bikini", by the critically acclaimed Oh Young-Doo ("The Neighbor Zombie"), and "Phase 7", an Argentinean sci-fi flick recommended by festival programmers. Many fans and even members of the press were disappointed to see that on-the-spot purchases were mostly impossible due to high demand.
The special midnight screenings, in which three consecutive films are shown all night long on weekends, were packed. On Friday, indie band Barameul Gareugo added to the celebratory mood by performing in the lobby of Bucheon City Hall until the screening began.
More than 300 of the most enthusiastic fantasy film buffs gathered at the City Hall theater for the much anticipated Asian premiere of "Hobo With a Shotgun".
The gory "urban Western" by Jason Eisener is based on a mock trailer produced for the Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriquez feature "Grindhouse", and the young crowd gave a big round of applause with lots of laughs and cheers as the splatter-fest came to an end.
Among other spotlighted films was the premiere Friday of emerging director Moon Si-hyun's "Sins of Fathers", an initially hyper-realistic drama that incorporates dark undertones of a fantasy story.
Moon has been touted as a younger filmmaker to watch out for in recent years. A protege of Kim Ki-duk, she has worked on the set of "Breath" and "Time" by the elder film maverick. She has made short films that were invited to compete at the Rotterdam Film Festival ("Love in the Shadows") and the Independent Film Festival Made in Pusan ("Up").
Her debut feature film portrays the strain of "broken" middle-class families of which parents tolerate separation in order to educate their children overseas.
Tae-su (Kim Yeong-hoon), a happily married businessman with a promising future, loses everything overnight when he underwrites a friend's debt. He decides to divorce his wife on paper and takes refuge at a bleak "gosiwon" (low-cost lodging with cubicle-like single rooms) in the southern port city of Busan.
There, a precocious high school girl Se-ra (Yoo Ae-kyeong) begins to seduce him and things take an unexpected turn.
"Koreans readily forfeit their personal needs for their children's future and I wanted to look into this, whether these people were truly happy", Moon said during a Q&A session following the screening.
She added that the film portrays the difficult role of patriarchs in post-Asian financial crisis Korea.
The film's original title, "Samagi" or praying mantis, refers to how the female insect eats the male after mating in order to provide nutrients for their offspring, she said.
Another one of Kim's former assistant directors, Juhn Jai-hong, whose inter-Korean drama "Poongsan" is ranking among the top five in the local box office, appeared as a member of the audience. Actor Kim Jong-soo, who plays a North Korean official in Juhn's film, stars in "Sins of Fathers".
"Moon Si-hyun and I have known each other ever since I was studying filmmaking in New York. I'm very proud of her", said Juhn.
PiFan continues through Sunday. Visit www.pifan.com (Korean and English) for more information.
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