Line-up includes films from Lee Yong-seung and Fukuda Yuichi.

Room no 7

Asia’s largest genre fest, the 21st Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) today announced it will open with the world premiere of Room No. 7, the sophomore feature from award-winning Korean director Lee Yong-seung (10 Minutes).

Running July 13-23, the fest will hold its awards ceremony July 21 with closing film Gintama, the live action film directed by Fukuda Yuichi based on the popular manga by Sorachi Hideaki.

This year, BIFAN will screen 289 films from 58 countries with 63 world premieres with encore screenings July 22-23.

The Bucheon Choice: Features competition will screen 11 films including the world premiere of Jeon Kyuhwan’s Korean film The End and the Asian premiere of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s US film The Endless.

Korean Fantastic: Features competition, which includes films like the recent Cannes Midnight Screenings title The Villainess, also has a socio-political slant with world premiering films such as Im Heung-soon’s North Korean women refugees film Ryeohaeng and Spy Nation director Choi Seung-ho’s new documentary Criminal Conspiracy, about the mutation of public broadcasting in South Korea over the past decade.

Special programmes include “Terrible Women: Monsters And Villainesses” which showcases films with strong female leads instead of “the usual castrated versions of male characters” as programmer Ellen YD Kim put it, including Kim Ki-young’s Ieoh Island, Brian De Palma’s Carrie and Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

BIFAN is also holding a retrospective on award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon, including her debut film The Contact and Secret Sunshine, which won her Cannes’ best actress prize.

Other retrospectives include one on recently deceased veteran director Hong Ki-seon (The Road Taken) and on legendary Spanish genre master Alex de la Iglesia (Heirs Of The Beast).

Special screenings will also include films such as Bong Joon Ho’s Okja and remastered versions of Go Yeong-nam’s Suddenly In Dark Night and Otomo Katsuhiro’s animation Akira.

BIG profile

The BIFAN Industry Gathering (BIG), comprising four sections - Korea Now, Made In Asia, the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) and New Media, will run July 15-18.

Korea Now will feature events like the SF Fantastic Forum, Fantastic Marketing Funding and a Korean film policy forum. The last, following revelations of the past presidential administration’s artist blacklist and this new administration’s intent to clean it up, will ask, as organizer Moon Seok put it: “The Korean Film Council - is it alright as it is?”

In its second year, the Made In Asia programme will showcase 22 top local film hits from 11 countries including The Age Of Shadows from Korea, The Mermaid from China and Your Name. from Japan.

“Unlike in the past, genre films are very much in the industry mainstream. We see a lot of them amongst the hits in Asia and want to show what is being made, consumed, and enjoyed,” said BIFAN deputy director Kim Jongwon.

Made In Asia will also hold an open forum attended by the producers of these hits.

Running July 15-18, the 10th NAFF’s It Project market will feature 16 projects from 15 countries including Mihkail Red’s Eerie from the Philippines and Bu Wei’s Man Of Sin from China.

NAFF’s Project Spotlight this year is on Vietnam, with four projects including Pham Nhue Giang’s Journey Of Love.

For the first time, NAFF will collaborate with Ventana Sur Film Market on the Blood Window showcase. Gabriel Grieco’s Argentinean project Transgenesis will have business meetings July 16-17.

New Media will include talks on VR and OTT platforms, the latter with Stadium Media creator and CEO Mitch Mallon.

The fest, which saw an increase in Chinese participation in 2016, was tentative about commenting on it this year because of China’s anti-THAAD freeze towards South Korea.

Programmer Kim Bongseok admitted to having some difficulties getting mainland China titles.

“But the recent trend is to use Hong Kong and Taiwanese directors, so the overall number of Chinese-language films we’ve programmed has not gone down,” he said.