the 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film FestivalPoster of the 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (photo courtesy of PiFan)
The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) began in 1997 in Bucheon, a metropolitan city in the province of Gyeonggi-do. Ensconced between Incheon and Seoul, the city receives heavy business and government support for filmmaking and the visual arts. The city gradually became a mecca of South Korean visual arts including animation, games, and films. The PiFan festival committee chose this city in 1997 to feature a specific genre of films full of fresh new creativity and imagination and to address topics that are too unique or risqué for mainstream cinema. Since then, the festival has showcased hundreds of new South Korean and international horror, thriller, mystery, and fantasy films, with a particular focus on East Asian and Southeast Asian cinema.

The festival has garnered increasing support over the years from fans and cinema gurus alike. PiFan earned its reputation as the most dynamic and energetic film festival in Asia. The festival also closely collaborates with the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival in Japan and the European Fantastic Film Federation for cinematic projects, and now has a major presence in the world of cinema as the biggest gala of Asian genre films.

From July 19 to 29, the 16th edition of PiFan will showcase more than 210 films from 40 countries. For the Korean short film section, 630 short films were submitted for initial screening. The competition was tough and the review was rigorous. Ultimately, 38 films made the cut and were selected for the festival. This year, interesting films created with new media such as smartphones have been submitted. Most of these films have imaginative storylines of the kind that are rare in commercial films.

The producer in charge of the initial screening, Han Sun-hee, stated, “We selected films that have fantasy and imaginative storylines aligned with the festival’s message. They all clearly depict human nature.”

The 36 short films will be shown in the Fantastic Short Films and Puchon Choice section. These films will compete for USD 13,000 in cash prizes for the four awards of the Puchon Choice section. At last year’s PiFan festival, Dead on Time by Greek film director Kostas Skiftas won the prize for Best Short Film and The Adult’s Flesh by Jeong Ki-jeong won for the Best Korean Short Film.

Spotlight on Indonesian films

The Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) will also be held during the festival. NAFF is a genre project market that was established as part of PiFan to promote and support Asian genre films in such respects as film development, co-production, financing, and post-production.

The 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is ready to shock audiences with fantastic blood-curdling filmsThe 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is ready to shock audiences with fantastic blood-curdling films by international filmmakers (photo: Yonhap News).

NAFF 2012 is celebrating its 5th anniversary from July 22 to 25 at the PiFan venues. This year, NAFF will showcase Indonesian films in its “Project Spotlight: Indonesian Selections. ” The films include Curious Grandma: The Murder of Annet Van Houten by Lucky Kuswandi, vampire love story Blue Blood by Billy Christian, and Paul Agusta’s Beautiful Beast, inspired by a classical Indonesian horror film.

“The selection conveys not only a faithful genre convention, but also characteristic features based on deeply rooted Indonesian traditions,” said NAFF organizers. Previous NAFF Project Spotlights have focused on the films of China (2008), Singapore (2009), Taiwan (2010), and Japan (2011).

Come to the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival this month and enjoy a wide range of films. The horror films and dream-like stories will send chills up and down your spine and tickle your imagination, a great way to forget the summer heat.

*Article from Korea Magazine (July 2012)