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Korean Films at the 12th PiFan

2008/07/18 Source

The 12th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) kicks off this July 18 27 with the biggest line-up of genre films in Asia. Best of all are the return of high-profile Korean films to the fest and a warmer interaction with the local film industry after setbacks in previous years. KOFIC will again host a Korean film night event, this time an outdoor barbeque reception for guests during the festival.

Two Korean films will vie along with 10 foreign films in PiFan's main competition section Puchon Choice for a variety of cash awards including best feature. First is the critically praised sleeper hit "The Chaser" by Na Hong-jin. The tale of an ex-cop-turned-pimp on the trail of a prostitute-killer, made stars of its two leads, HA Jeong-woo and KIM Yoon-seok.

Also in this section is the World Premiere of new Korean horror, "Death Bell", by debut Director Chang. The HD feature is set in a high school where the brightest 20 students are struggling to survive as classmates disappear one by one in the lead up to a big exam. The accompanying Puchon Choice Short Films section will present cash awards to the best from among 12 international shorts including 5 Korean shorts.

A highly anticipated stand-out is festival closer, "Cyborg She", the latest feature from Korean director kwak Jae-Yong of "My Sassy Girl" fame. The new film truly fits the "Fantastic" bill, blending elements of sci-fi, romance, action and melodrama. The Korean-Japanese co-production stars actress Haruka Ayase as a beautiful time-traveling cyborg who enters the life of a timid university student (played by Keisuke Koide).

Korean films included in the World Fantastic section are "Hansel and Gretel" by the talented Yim Pil-sung and "Hwan" by Park Jae-beom-III. Lim, whose previous film "Antartic Journal" was set in an icy terrain, moves into a dark forest for this haunting reworking of the famous fairy tale. "Hwan", which means 'illusion' is an HD horror involving a high school girl prone to severe fainting fits and the mysterious events and murders surrounding her.

Korean-American Grace Lee will screen her latest fictional documentary, "American Zombie", about the struggles of zombies to co-exist in a human-biased society, also in the World Fantastic section. In the 'Off the Fantastic' program, Korean erotic-comedy "A Tale of Legendary Libido" by Sin Han-sol will screen along with "Radio Dayz" by Ha Ki-ho, the tale of the first radio station in Korea.

In a new section titled Strange Homage, which selects films from acclaimed masters of the eccentric, a restored version of Korean classic "The Housemaid - 1960" will screen. The 1960 feature by cinematic oddity Kim Ki-young, was selected by Martin Scorcese for restoration support and was presented at this year's Cannes festival.

This year PiFan runs an 'Asian Action Special' martial arts and action flicks including Korean Goryeo Kingdom-set epic, The Warriors ("Musa", 2001) by Kim Seong-su. Meanwhile the Korean retrospective 'Hwalgeuk' presents 8 spy-action films from the 60s to the 80s set in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Not-to-be-missed is master-director Kim Soo-yong's Correspondent in Tokyo from 1968. Also included are Shin Young-kyun's "Madam Jang" from Hong Kong (1970) about a femme fatale who organizes a sex-kitten spy team and "Woman Detective Mary" (1975), a sexploitation thriller about espionage and drug-dealing gangsters, directed by Lee Eun-su.

The festival, at various venues in Bucheon city, is a mere 30 minute subway ride from central Seoul. More information about the event can be found at the festival website which is available in English at: Open the link

Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)

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