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[HanCinema Korea's Diary] PiFan 2011 Preview

2011/06/25 | 1610 views | Permalink

The 15th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is just around the corner! The festival recently released its list of screenings and there is a wide array of films to be enjoyed at one of Korea's biggest film festivals of the year!

The festival will take place in Puchon (or Bucheon) from the 14th to 24th of July. The opening film has been chosen and they are going with India's "Bollywood the greatest Love Story Ever Told". The film was screened at this year's Festival de Cannes and struggled to wow critics. Kirk Honeycutt from concluded his review of the film as follows:

"Somewhere in this mesh-mash is a really good doc about a joyous cinema that something like two billion people love. The filmmakers need to get back to the editing room". (

I struggled to find a good review of the film online and I am interested to see how Korean audiences will respond to it. I was also a little sceptical of this choice but being largely unexposed to Bollywood cinema, this might be my entry point into one of the world's largest film industries.

The festival's closing film looks to me to be a lot more enticing; it's the world premiere of Ahn Sang Hoon's "Blind". This is his second major feature and it revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a number of college girls and the connection between them and a blind women who claims to have witnessed a hit-and-run.

The festival's official competition is divided into two main sections. The first is for feature-length films from around the world ("Puchon Choice: Feature"), with Na Hong Jin's "The Yellow Sea" being the only Korean contender. The other is for the short film competition. I was very impressed with the shorts showed at the Jeonju Film Festival earlier this year, being some of the best films I managed to see, and I have high expectations for the twelve films competing in this category. Of the twelve shorts that are in the running, five of them are Korean. They are Lee Jung Haeng's "The Physics Class", Bae Sang Cheol's coproduction with the USA called "Cone Boy", " Beautiful " by Jang Se Jung, Jeong Ki Jeong's "The Adult Flesh", and Oh Dong Wok's "The Southern Plains". I would encourage anyone looking ahead to the festival this year to ensure that they give the shorts a go.

The "World Fantastic Cinema" section has 44 films to choose from, representing a spectrum of genre films taken from around the world. Korea, along with Japan, is well represented in this category as a large number of films make their premiere both locally and internationally. Oh Young-doo's "Invasion of Alien Bikini", Woody Han's "Link", Park Seong Soo's "Killing Time", Ji Ha Jean's "Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley", Hwang Yoo-sik's "The Beast - 2011" and Noh Bo Sung's "Attention" are the six Korean films premiering in this section of the festival.

The other sections include "Strange Homage", "Vision Express", the always entertaining "Forbidden Zone", "Family Fanta", "Ani Fanta", and a large number of shorts in their "Fantastic Short Films" section. I was a little disappointed to see just three films under the "Ani Fanta" title, with only two animations from Japan and a digital animation called "The Ugly Duckling" from Russia, and the entire "Forbidden Zone" this year is dominated by Japanese films. In fact, the festival seems to be inundated with films from Japan this year.

The festival also has a number of special programs outside of its main categories. This year you can find "J Horror The Last Chapter" taking a "genealogical look into Japanese horror films", in which the meta-horror film "Die! Filmmakers, Die!" looks interesting, as well as Takahashi Hiroshi's "Kyofu".

There is also a 3D section to this year's program, which also sounds exciting. Who wouldn't want to see "Battle Royal" in 3D? You can also watch "Amphibious" and "Child's Eye" in all dimensions. Exciting stuff but take note that the 3D films are a little more expensive than the regular films. But not all films have a cover charge! PiFan is also offering free screenings of the Oscar winning "The Kings Speech", "Gnomeo & Juliet", and the Austrian film "Lourdes", so there is no reason not to get involved!

There is an abundance of activity happening at PiFan this year so be sure to visit the official PiFan website to find out more information:

-Christopher J. Wheeler (

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