Ushering in the Next 100 Years of Korean Cinema
The 23rd BIFAN Closes Out its 11-Day Adventure
The 23rd Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (Festival Director SHIN Chul, hereafter BIFAN) has closed out its 11-day journey, which ran from June 27 to July 7. For the first time in BIFAN’s history, the opening ceremony was broadcast live nationally on SBS (from 6 to 7 p.m. on June 27), and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Korean cinema and the construction of the Korean Film Museum, an infiorata (a colorful carpet made out of flower petals) was laid out for six days (June 25 to 30) next to the water fountain in front of Bucheon City Hall (organized by BIFAN’s 13th supporters’ association). The “Next 100 Project” was also launched in order to actively usher in the coming 100 years of Korean cinema rather than look back at the past 100 years. This year’s festival, which screened a total of 324 films (traditional: 284 films from 49 countries, VR: 40 films from 19 countries), held B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering) at Bucheon Art Bunker B39 for five days (June 30 to July 4) to promote the revitalization of the film industry. The festival recorded an attendance figure of 151,619 (total audience for screenings: 77,184, seat occupancy rate: 65.8% / total audience for seminars and events: 74,435).
1. A fantastic film festival that's remembered for genre!
By screening films that reflect the identity of BIFAN as one of Asia’s top genre film festivals, the festival earned an enthusiastic response from cineastes and audiences alike. Genre films such as Fanfare, Melancholic, Overlord, and The Golden Glove received a great deal of love from audiences (sold-out films: 87, sold-out screenings: 112). The special programs also attracted wide attention. The exhibition, mega talk, and surprise Q&A that were held for the “Gorgeous, Charming, Dangerous KIM Hye Soo” special program shined a spotlight on actress KIM Hye Soo and the world of genre cinema, and was well received by audiences. Hidden Korean genre films were discovered through ”A Crazy Chronicle of Korean Genre Cinema,” and “Women in Comedy, Loud and Fabulous” opened up a space for discourse about feminism and genre films. Programs that assert BIFAN’s identity such as “The Earth is Mine: Original Beastly Creatures” and “Robots: Future Beyond the Human Race” were met with wholehearted support from genre fanatics.
2. A film festival that communicates extensively with audiences!
This year, BIFAN expanded opportunities to interact with audiences by bolstering audience-participation programs. Including the in-depth mega talks about actors KIM Hye Soo and NA Moon-hee and the master classes, there were a total of 137 opportunities for the festival to engage in conversation with the audience. The various events that were organized along with local Bucheon organizations, such as Open Cine-Music, Fantastic Music Festival, and Robot Experience Zone, created fun-filled memories for children and their families. BIFAN also took the leap into live broadcasting in order to diversify the way in which the festival communicates with audiences. The opening ceremony was broadcast live both on TV via SBS and online via Naver V Live. The talks that took place after the screening of hit films such as Tazza: The High Rollers, Persona, and Trap: Director’s Cut were broadcast live on Naver. By engaging in real-time communication with online audiences, the festival received a total of 361,971 hearts (sent by viewers during Naver V Live broadcasts).
3. Record number of overseas guests!
As if to confirm the enthusiasm and interest surrounding BIFAN, countless filmmakers and industry professionals from all around the globe visited Bucheon. KIM Hye Soo, the star of the “Gorgeous, Charming, Dangerous KIM Hye Soo” special program, JUNG Woo-sung, who visited BIFAN once again this year, and “Bucheon Choice: Features” jury members UHM Junghwa and director KANEKO Shusuke graced the opening ceremony with their presence. Actors KO Jun, Gong-Myoung, GI Ju-bong, KIM Byoung Cheol, KIM Sangkyung, KIM Sohye, KIM Jiseok, NAM Gyuri, NAM Soojin, RYU Seung Soo, RYU Won, PARK Sojin, Jae in LEE, Honey LEE, CHANG Mihee, JUNG Eugene, CHO Jinwoong, HAN Jian, HAN Ji-il, and HEO Sung Tae; and directors KIM Hong-Jun, YANG Ik-Joon, E.oni, LEE Won-Se, IM Kwon-taek, CHANG Gil-soo, JUNG Byung-gil, and HUR Jin-ho were in attendance to celebrate the beginning and end of the 23rd BIFAN. Well-known figures in the film industry also made an appearance during the film festival. One of the highlights of the festival came when directors KIM Taeyong and MIN Kyudong and actors KIM Gyuri, LEE Yeongjin, and GONG Hyojin of Memento Mori all gathered at BIFAN to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film’s release. Directors KOH Jungwook, KIM Jongkwan, LEE Myungse, YIM Pilsung, JEON Gowoon, CHOI Donghoon, and HAN Junhee, and some of the hottest actors in the Korean film industry such PARK Sojin, OH Minseok, YOON Kyeongho, LEE Donghwi, LIM Hwayeong, JO Dalhwan, and JO Hyeoncheol, met with audiences to talk about film. BIFAN also set a record with this year with a total of 423 overseas guests attending the festival, confirming the keen interest of international filmmakers and industry professionals in BIFAN.
4. "Beyond Reality," the largest VR exhibition in the country!
The VR program, which is one of BIFAN’s specialized programs, developed from the existing New Media showcase and was expanded and launched into a stand-alone program called “Beyond Reality” – the most advanced program of its kind in Korea in terms of content and scale. In order to create a proper venue for the program, Bucheon Art Bunker B39 - a former waste incineration plant that has been transformed into a cultural center – was re-created into a futuristic space. A total of 40 films that have been recognized by global film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, Kaohsiung Film Festival, and the Sandbox Immersive Festival were screened, and world-class curators and artists were invited to take part in various programs and conferences in order to present the forefront of contemporary film technology to BIFAN’s audiences. In addition, a media art project titled “The Axis of Time,” which captured the spatial characteristics of B39 and the value of the “100 years of Korean cinema, NEXT 100” concept, was praised for its scale and excellence. It was also recognized as a spatiotemporal construction of Beyond Reality’s innovative concept, which was accomplished through the effective use of the characteristics of spatial media. Beyond Reality was commended for being a place where the future of cinematic language could be experienced, which in turn made it a space for a phenomenal artistic experience.
5. B.I.G, the Asian hub of the global genre film industry!
BIFAN’s industry program, B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering), also excelled in its role of being the largest networking site in Asia for professionals in the genre film industry. The 12th NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films) genre film project market was joined by 92 agencies that engaged in 526 business meetings, the most since the project market’s inception. “Korea Now,” which aims to cultivate the Korean genre film industry, presented a variety of programs this year that befit the characteristics and direction of BIFAN, such as the debate that explored the current situation and policies of Korea, Vietnam, and France’s film industries, forum on short-film distribution, low-budget genre film academy for young filmmakers, and the SF Scenario Pitching Showcase.
BIFAN, which has successfully wrapped up the 23rd edition of the festival, will now be turning its attention to the next 100 years of Korean cinema while strengthening its platform that discovers and nurtures new talents within the world of genre cinema. The festival will also strive to expand the scope of traditional film festivals. By preparing a more abundant festival program and a more substantial industry program, BIFAN hopes to greet audiences as a new and improved version of itself in the year 2020.