BIFANBucheon International Fantastic Film Festival
The Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN), which launched in 1997, is the representative cultural festival of Bucheon, a UNESCO creative city of literature. Works by master filmmakers such as Peter JACKSON, Christopher NOLAN, Darren ARONOFSKY, Guillermo del TORO, JANG Joonhwan, and NA Hongin have been discovered and introduced at BIFAN. The festival called into question the topic of censorship through provocative special programs, such as the blue movie special program, and it built a fan community through a program dedicated to martial arts movies by the Shaw Brothers Studio and the Bollywood special program. BIFAN has experienced its share of ups and downs following changes in authority, but it has received endless love and support over the past 26 years from audiences and guests, for presenting new sensibilities, rich imagination, and unique programs. With “Stay Strange” as its motto, BIFAN strives to be a film festival that cheers for the nonmainstream, while discovering and giving courage to talents that are pushed to the margins.
The genre films and talents discovered and introduced by BIFAN become more amplified and can meet the world through the festival’s industry program, B.I.G. built upon the foundation of the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF), which launched in 2008 to help with the production and development of genre films, B.I.G has developed into a platform that represents the genre film industry. Asian genre filmmakers have been discovered and nurtured through the world’s first genre film project market, It Project, and our film education program, Fantastic Film School. Through Made in Asia, we have accumulated data on popular movies in Asia and created a network of industry leaders.
Starting in 2016, BIFAN became the first film festival in the country to introduce immersive VR and XR content and trends in technology. Beyond Reality, which has grown into an independent category, shows the evolution of storytelling that comes from the fusion of technology and art. In 2020, the Scary Tales Campus was born for the discovery, collection, and creation of scary stories. As BIFAN’s signature program, the Scary Tales Campus believes in the power of stories, and it is currently creating an ecosystem of scary tales that focuses on the discovery, creation, and distribution of such stories
BIFAN 2023 Overview
The 2023 Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival presents the slogan 'Cinema+' to reflect BIFAN's intention to assess the state of Korean cinema amidst significant shifts in the industry and cultural landscape. With the convergence and combination of Korean pop cultures such as K-series, K-pop, and K-webtoon, BIFAN aims to diagnose the present and envision the future. Since 2020, BIFAN has been pondering the essence of cinema, initiating the agenda of 'Redefining Cinema.' The film industry is experiencing rapid changes, far beyond the mere exchange of original stories and creative talents. These changes propel the nature and environment of cinema into a realm of continuous transformation and expansion.
Meanwhile, now after the pandemic, Korean cinema faces a massive crisis that has affected the film industry centered on theaters. This crisis could be another opportunity for cinema to expand by collaborating with music, series, and webtoons, and those adaptations and expansions particularly thrive in genre films, demonstrating great vitality.
Building on the successful launch of the Series Award last year, BIFAN remains committed to exploring the intersection of cinema with other cultural forms, such as serial content and webtoons, and through active collaboration with the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency. This year, we anticipate fruitful discussions and explorations of the ever-expanding future of cinema in Bucheon, engaging filmmakers, audiences, and citizens alike.
Celebration Programs to Honor Bucheon's 50th Anniversary
As Bucheon celebrates its 50th anniversary, BIFAN strives to nurture a symbiotic relationship between the city and the festival, ensuring harmonious growth and coexistence. With the success of 'Halloween in July' launched in 2022 that received a positive response from the public, new programs are designed for Bucheon's 50th anniversary in 2023. These exciting programs offer an opportunity for the citizens of Bucheon who adapted well to the challenges of the pandemic, to immerse themselves in a spirit of celebration, resilience, and cultural enrichment.
Bucheon City is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a bigger parade, where the Bucheon community and visitors can join in the open space. For three exciting days, a range of programs are planned to create a memorable summer vacation experience, including a lively dance party featuring EDM, a thrilling water gun fights using color powder with natural ingredients, and an experiential playgrounds with ice and circus performances, ensuring entertainment for all. The nights will come alive with collaborative events with local shops, surprise guerrilla performances across Bucheon to honor its anniversary, and food trucks serving unique culinary delights. Notably, the Bari Hotel program offers to stay overnight in partnership with local hotels, ultimately allowing visitors to enjoy the city's offerings while supporting the local economy.
The Goedam Campus organized the 'Bucheon Goedam Contest' to uncover ghost stories set in Bucheon and selected 11 chilling Bucheon ghost stories among 118 submissions. In time for the Festival, the Bucheon Goedam Collection of these peculiar and mysterious tales from Bucheon will be published and distributed as a booklet. As a distinctive addition to the 'Bucheon City 50th Anniversary Special, each BIFAN programmer will carefully select one film released in 1973, marking the 50th anniversary of Bucheon. With this selection, BIFAN aims to create a special moment for the audience to get immersed and celebrate Bucheon's remarkable 50th anniversary by screening masterpieces that have made a lasting impact on film history, valuing the cultural growth of Bucheon, a city that is encompassing not just films but also comics and webtoons.
Two Special Programs and Diverse Event Programs
As a renowned genre film festival, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) offers diverse programs, which include the competition sections of 'Bucheon Choice' and 'Korean Fantastic.' BIFAN's official selection offers a delightful cinematic experience: Mad MaxX introduces new creations by acclaimed directors, and the sections such as Adrenaline Ride, Metal Noir, Merry-Go-Round, Odd Family, and XL, pay homage to various film genres and offer carefully curated film selections to help the audience to choose films that meet their preferences.
One of BIFAN's flagship programs, the special spotlight on a Korean actor or actress, provides a glimpse into the current state of Korean cinema through the traces of actors and actresses who have represented contemporary Korean films. This year, BIFAN proudly presents Master CHOI MIN SIK, a retrospective of 10 films personally selected by the actor, spanning from the 1990s to recent releases. Moreover, in collaboration with the Korean Film Archive, two of CHOI Min Sik's early works, Vapor
(1988) and On The Way To The Winter
(1989), will be digitally restored and publicly screened for the first time. The Program also includes a commemorative booklet and a mega talk session with Choi Min Sik.
Another special program, Folk Horror: Land of Cruelty, Beliefs of Terror, delves into the significant trend of folk horror films in contemporary global cinema. The section offers 11 features and short films covering a spectrum of folk horror classics and recent acclaimed works. Alongside the screenings, there will be a mega talk session involving director Kier-La Janisse of Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror and other Korean and international producers, programmers, film critics, and researchers who will discuss the captivating history of folk horror. Attendees can also enjoy a booklet and limited-edition merchandise to enhance their understanding of folk horror.
Director Tezka Macoto opens a master class along with the selection of his shorts under the title of Visualism, which seamlessly traverses live-action and animation. The master class with director Konaka Kazuya will feature his autobiographical work on filmmaking, Single 8, and the original short film within a film, Turn Point 10:40, providing valuable insights into the art of filmmaking.
Embracing the global trend of film restoration, BIFAN presents a rich lineup of masterpieces in the Strange Hommage section. Films including David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, Gregg ArakI's The Doom Generation, Patrick Tam's Nomad: Director's Cut, Johnnie To's The Heroic Trio with incredible performances by Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Maggie Cheung, and KON Satoshi's Millennium Actress, are among the eight restored films prepared to encounter today's audience and be reinterpreted through a contemporary lens.
BIFAN also offers enjoyable screening events for cinephiles, such as The Night of Living 'Duk-hu' and B My Guest, featuring 'unique' guests to add an extra touch of 'strangeness' to the Festival.
Asian genre film industry platform B.I.G - an enhanced hybrid solution
This year’s BIFAN Industry Gathering (B.I.G.) brings strengthened globalized programs with complete
onsite schedules and complimentary online programs, including P/I screenings, workshops, and industry meetings for its three main components: NAFF Project Market, NAFF Fantastic Film School, and Made in Asia.
NAFF Project Market
Welcoming back numerous overseas partners and the new ones in this post-pandemic edition, NAFF Project Market invites carefully chosen twenty-nine projects from eighteen countries. They include five spotlight projects sponsored by VIPO from Japan, such as new works by Takahashi Hiroshi and Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, and four from Nordic Genre Invasion, making its return since 2019, including new projects by Pal Oie and Fredrik S. Hana. Among the support sponsors, TAICCA is newly on board with a 10,000 USD cash prize.
Fantastic Film School (FFS)
This year's FFS welcomes a renowned film veteran Barry Sabath as the Dean. Other mentors, including Hollywood executive Chris Lee and XYZ Films executive Todd Brown, will provide up close and personal instructions for thirty participants from seventeen countries as they begin to develop their project as well as group work, following the footsteps of Bradley Liew, Kenneth Dagatan, and Martika Ramirez Escobar, former FFS participants who became globally successful filmmakers with their films in Sundance, Tokyo, Sitges and more.
Made in Asia
Once again, Made in Asia takes a leap forward. Through the regular publication of industry reports to share standardized market information, and an industry forums bringing together key players of the Asian film industry, Made in Asia aims to provide a platform for exchange and cooperation among the various Asian film industries. This year, the Asian Film Industry Report will be extended to 17 countries. Through forums dealing with current major issues at the Asian film industry, solutions and visions will be exchanged, partnerships maintained and strengthened. Expanding partnership agreements between various Asian governmental and public institutions will extend and become the matrix for a cooperation organization of the Asian film industry.
Goedam Campus, Season 4
BIFAN opens the fourth season of Goedam Campus. The booklet featuring the winners of the Bucheon Goedam Competition, the ‘Bucheon Goedam Collection’, will be published and distributed to industry officials and libraries. The collection will contain 11 intriguing and mysterious stories about Bucheon, offering a fresh perspective on the city and inspiring future content. As world premieres, seven of last year's Goedam Short Films Production Support projects will be screened. BIFAN has established business agreements with organizations in Indonesia and Taiwan to launch the new Goedam Residency program, inviting talented individuals from each country. The best projects from the Goedam Planning and Development Camp will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas in Taiwan and Indonesia in the second half of the year and two Goedam shorts will be featured at the TFC's Short Film Festival. The festival will also include the inauguration ceremony of 'Goedam Campus 2023,' where selected Goedam short projects will be awarded, and mentors and mentees from the eight projects of the Goedam Planning and Development Camp will come together to strengthen their creative spirit. Acclaimed author, Seo Miae, known as the queen of mystery novels, will share her creative secrets through the 'Goedam Master's Secret.' Additionally, there will be an anthology book talk by Safe House and a book cafe featuring other genre publishers such as Mineumsa The Golden Bough
Everything we see, feel, and think can be transformed into digital signals, accumulated, reproduced, and shared. Immersive content, actively reflecting the art of the digital age, boldly penetrates neighboring art genres. This year's 'Beyond Reality' introduces works that expand into architecture and performing arts. Additionally, we will be hosting a 'Content Jam' workshop, utilizing generative artificial intelligence and motion capture that swiftly produce visually stunning results. While technology cannot always provide definitive answers to art, creators will have the opportunity to gain faithful and efficient assistance.