South Korea's Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) kicked off on July 10 amid strong press coverage and increasing interest from local fans.

A showy opening ceremony presided over by festival director Kim Hong-joon was followed by the world premiere of the highly anticipated local animated film Wonderful Days. Looking considerably more expensive than its $10m budget, the film drew praise from festival guests for its unique visuals, but was felt to be hampered by an overly familiar storyline.

An international jury consisting of French director Alain Corneau (Fear And Trembling), Jan Harlan (a longtime producer for Stanley Kubrick), Toronto Film Festival Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes, Japanese actress Youki Kudoh (Mystery Train), and Korean actress Kim Yun-jin (Ardor) will be charged with presenting awards in the Puchon Choice competition section for genre films.

Festival organizers are marketing this year's edition as a more family-friendly affair, with a special section designed to appeal to local residents of Bucheon, the suburban city where the festival is held (PiFan has elected to retain the old romanization of the city in its name).

The event is following up its most successful year in 2002 when a record 65,000 tickets were sold in the wake of Korea's joint hosting of the World Cup. This year looks to have even more potential, with ticket reservations up 10% and a large number of sold-out shows.

Not all has gone according to plan, however, as the poor quality of available prints has forced the festival to cancel three of its four scheduled films by Korean horror director Park Yun-kyo.

Having shot numerous campy horror films throughout the 70s and 80s, Park remains largely forgotten today and a lack of preservation means that only four of his films still exist in complete form. The cancellation of The Haunted Wedding Dress (1981), Song Of The Dead (1980), and The Song Under Moonlight (1985) will leave The Wall In Spring (1981) as the only film in the mini-retrospective. The festival has announced that other classic horror films, such as Kwon Chul-hwi's Public Cemetery Under The Moon, will be substituted.