South Korea's festival sceneis set to witness a major confrontation in mid-July, when the 9th PuchonInternational Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) faces off against a smaller rivalevent staged by PiFan's former organisers.

On Tuesday the so-calledReal Fantastic Film Festival, to take place in Seoul over the same period asPiFan (July 14-23), unveiled a program of 64 films including the specialsection "Marx Attacks! - Sci-fiMovies from Eastern Europe" organised with the Neuchatel festival ofSwitzerland.

The festival's opening filmwill be the 1924 classic Alelita by Yakov Portazanov, together with a newlycomposed film score.

Also on Tuesday, PiFancountered by announcing a 172-film programme including two opening films,Russian blockbuster Night Watch and Carlos Reygadas' recent Cannes entry BattleIn Heaven, which will be screened simultaneously in different venues.

Special sections willinclude retrospectives of Egyptian cinema and Korean directors Park Chul-sooand Ko Young-nam.

With many local filmmakersand industry people calling for a boycott of the older PiFan fest,"RealFanta" will host a far wider selection of recent Korean cinema,including the festival premiere of period thriller Blood Rain, local hitMarathon and recent Cannes selections A Bittersweet Life and Crying Fist.

The controversy surroundingPiFan and the subsequent birth of the rival festival can be traced back to thefiring of former festival director Kim Hong-joon together with much of thefestival's staff in January (see Screendaily Jan. 5 & Jan. 26).

Over the past several years,PiFan has established itself as Korea's second-ranked festival and attracted asurprising degree of notice from abroad.

However, in the wake of recentcontroversy the government has announced it will review the festival's fundingfor upcoming editions, and PiFan's future after 2005 remains uncertain.