‘Stay Strange' Final Report for the 25th BIFAN

DATE2021.07.22Hit 208

 ‘Stay Strange'
Final Report for the 25th BIFAN

The 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN, Organizing Committee Chairperson CHUNG Jiyoung / Festival Director SHIN Chul / Sponsor Association Chairperson SHIN Kyeonghak) came to a close on July 18. After kicking things off on July 8 with a special opening ceremony themed around Whispering Corridors, the series produced by the late LEE Choon-yun, and presenting the world premiere of Till We Meet Again by Taiwanese director Giddens KO, the 25th BIFAN diversified its interface with audiences by being held as a hybrid online/offline festival, and it also put an emphasis on safety. In the midst of the elevated social distancing scheme, which was raised to Level 4 on the 5th day of the 11-day festival, BIFAN was able to achieve the desired outcome by following disease prevention guidelines and having participation from audiences. No spread of COVID-19 was reported, and many audiences and citizens were able to enjoy the festival. 

Every morning while the festival was in session, the entire festival staffs including the festival executive members, staff members, and volunteers all tested with COVID-19 self-test kits before each day of the festival started. The festival put the utmost effort to run this year’s edition in a full-scale system of quarantine measures to protect the health of audiences and citizens. Audience members and citizens were subject to a temperature check at the disease-prevention desk, as well as hand sanitation and a QR code check-in (or a handwritten visitor log check-in) before they were able to enter through an AI-powered anti-bacterial air shower tunnel installed in front of screening room. Hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, and disinfectant sprays were also placed everywhere to allow staff members and volunteers to protect the health of audience members. When staff members and volunteers needed to get close to audience member or citizens, they wore masks, latex gloves, and face shields. Screening rooms were disinfected 4 to 5 times a day, every day, and tables, chairs, and other surfaces were disinfected with alcohol after events.

In addition to the thorough prevention measures BIFAN has also been thorough in approach to responding to positive COVID-19 cases. With rapidly growing number of positive cases in the country during the festival days, BIFAN could not avoid having visitors who turned out to be positive for COVID-19. However, thanks to thorough prevention and follow-up measures, no transmission of the virus at any of the festival venues has been reported as of July 20. This would not have been possible without the dedication of all the festival staff and volunteers, as well as the cooperation of the filmmakers and audience members who were in attendance. As a result, the festival was able to successfully hold the events we had prepared while the social distancing restrictions were at Level 2 during the first four days of our festival, and it was able to hold safe offline screenings at theaters even after the Level 4 scheme was imposed. BIFAN will be closely monitoring the situation these next two weeks and responding fully to any matters that may arise. Thank you. Below is the final report for the 25th BIFAN. 
▲(clockwise from top left) Q&A for Actionhero in theater, online Q&A for opening film Till We Meet Again, special screening at Cinema Bunker, Beyond Reality(BIFAN’s XR program)
"Stay Strange," the slogan for the 25th BIFAN, is an expression of BIFAN's determination to show keen support for genre films that have turned away from the mainstream. It implies that, although their stories might be unfamiliar and strange to some, if these stories are nurtured, the talents behind them can eventually meet BIFAN and blossom. "Stay Strange" also captures the hope and comfort being offered to filmmakers, audiences, and everyone else who has struggled as a result of the strange changes that COVID-19 has brought about over the past two years.

A total of 257 films from 47 countries (94 features, 114 shorts, 49 XR) were presented at screenings and exhibitions. Features and shorts were screened from July 8 to 15 at the Bucheon City Hall theater, Fantastic Cube, CGV Sopoong, and and Bucheon Bunker B39. A total of 61 features and 93 shorts were streamed for 10 days from July 9 to 18 at BIFAN X wavve online screenings, which was a collaboration between the festival and wavve, the biggest local streaming platform. In addition, more than 80 works (including 49 official selections) were presented through BIFAN’s XR program, Beyond Reality, from July 1 to 18 at an exhibition space at the Incheon International Airport.

Total admissions of the 25th BIFAN is 35,235; A total of 11,218 admissions from on-site screenings, and 20,595 views from the online. The special screenings at Bucheon Art Bunker B39 drew 355 viewers, while the XR program, Beyond Reality, drew 3,067. 

*Audience Figures and Totals

A total of 97 films, including opening film Till We Meet Again and in-competition films such as The Medium, Pistol, and Tenement 66, made their world premieres at BIFAN (Premieres: WP 97, IP 7, AP 85, KP 45). A total of KRW 130 million was awarded to around 20 films from the Bucheon Choice (international competition) and Korean Fantastic (Korean competition) sections. 

For the opening film and 11 films in competition, an online Q&A was held with overseas guests. Twenty guests, including directors Giddens KO and Lee Haven JONES and actors WONG Jing, Vivian SUNG, KO Chen-tung, and CHEN Bolin, took part. Though physically separated, it gave the guests and audiences a chance to interact and communicate with one another at the same time. A total of 73 directors who couldn't attend BIFAN greeted audiences via video messages. 41 offline Q&A sessions were held at theaters and Bucheon Art Bunker B39. 235 domestic guests, including directors JEONG Jae-eun, PARK Ji-wan, BONG Man-dae, JEONG Ka-young, and KOO Hye-sun, and actors LEE Joo-young, GONG Seung-yeon, OK Ja-yeon, HAN Seung-yeon, JO Sung-ha, LEE Won-jong, KIM Hyun-mok, WOO Ji-yeon, and LEE Suk-hyeong, made their way to BIFAN to be with audiences. 
▲(clockwise from top left) director Erick OH, director Tony KAYE, director NA Hongjin, screenwriter KIM Eunhee
The online and offline master classes were also a huge hit. A special program featuring the works of Erick OH, who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short for his film Opera, was prepared, which was accompanied by a master class that allowed participants to explore the world of his works. Master classes led by director NA Hongjin, KIM Donghyun (MERRYCHRISTMAS INC., Head of Investment for Korean Films), and screenwriter KIM Eunhee were held for the mentees of the Scary Tales Planning and Development Camp. The mentees who participated in the master classes were able to gain knowledge of directing, producing, and writing genre films. The master class featuring Tony KAYE, the director behind films such as American History X and Detachment, received a huge response from the 94 participants from 17 countries who logged-in simultaneously to experience the class. 

The former garbage incinerator turned cultural art space, Bucheon Art Bunker B39, became a venue for special events. 8 special screenings, 6 Q&A sessions, 4 special talks, 2 live performances, 20 one-day classes participated in by citizens and audience members, and a permanent exhibition were held here. Bucheon Art Bunker B39 drew a total of 1,145 visitors, and the live concerts and talks that were broadcast online from here drew 20,687 viewers.
▲ Forum: Redefine Cinema
On the day after the opening ceremony, BIFAN held a forum titled "Redefine Cinema," which invited participants to rethink cinema post COVID-19. In a rapidly shifting media environment surrounding films, BIFAN invited experts from the world of film and academia could give presentations and debate several issues, including how cinema should be redefined, strategies for how the global film industry can survive COVID-19, and how Korean films can overcome the present crisis. The forum gave everyone an opportunity to gather wisdom and analyze the current situation regarding everything from the essence of the language of cinema, to distribution and polices. 
▲(clockwise from top left) GoeGoe O-TALK, KIM Sawol X KIM Haewon performance, Typography by KIMM Kijo exhibition, Don’t Eat This Cake! one-day class

*Program Events

*Participation Events

The Scary Tales Campus, presented by BIFAN and UNESCO Creative City Bucheon, also saw meaningful results. 1,000 copies of the two parts of the Scary Tales Collection will be printed and sent to relevant businesses and organizations, then distributed to libraries in different regions. The Production Support for Scary Short Films program, which awards KRW 100 million in production support, selected a total of 8 films. KRW 100 million in cash awards, creative support, and lectures will be provided to the Scary Tales Planning and Development Camp, at which feature-length film and series projects about scary tales are developed and talents are nurtured, and the School of Story Creation for Youth. The pitching event for the development camp projects was postponed following the imposition of the Level 4 social distancing scheme, and is currently scheduled to take place in early August. BIFAN will continue supporting our Scary Tales Campus, which strives to nurture individuals and talents, and create an ecosystem for scary tales. 

BIFAN’s industry program, B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering), was held completely online. 655 meetings with 146 companies were carried out for the B.I.G It Project, for which 40 projects from 28 countries were selected. Fantastic Film School took place at the Bucheon Fantastic Castle, a virtual space created on And finally, KRW 345 million in cash prizes and support-in-kind was awarded to winners of the NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films) Awards, as well as to films chosen to receive post-production support. 
▲(left to right) Scary Tales Planning and Development Camp orientation, NAFF Awards at the Bucheon Fantastic Castle on
To celebrate the 25th edition of the festival, audiences were given snacks and gifts, such as Chupa Chups lollipops in BT21 tins. We received sponsored goods and discounts from 24 companies worth approximately KRW 603.692 million in total. Our most popular goods were our program book that looked like an art brochure and cake badges. 

The media also showed a great deal of interest and support for BIFAN, as we opened as a hybrid festival for the second year in a row. The response for the festival’s six "cake-series" posters, which reflected the slogan "Stay Strange" slogan, was also incredible.

This year's festival was operated on a budget of about KRW 485 million, which is approximately KRW 90 million less than the previous year. BIFAN would like to thank our always reliable supporters: the city of Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, Korean Film Council, Gyeonggi Contents Agency, Seoul Business Agency, and the Incheon International Airport Corporation. Even during these tough times, the supporters association and many sponsors came together to sponsor the festival to the tune of KRW 405.269 million. The festival would like to express our deep gratitude for the supporters association and its chairperson. 

The festival would also like to take this opportunity to thank its sponsors for their sponsorships and cooperation: Nonghyup Bank, CGV, PURIUM, wavve, MKB Development, With Plus System, LINCOLN PREMIER MOTORS, OVER THE LIMIT, POLLUTION, Tik Tok, DHL, C-47, unity, WATCHA, Pulmuone Waters, and Chojung Sparkling Water. For this year's festival, BIFAN used a total of 5,800 Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Rapid Tests. The remaining unused kits will be given to other events that are held in Bucheon. 
BIFAN believe that it has been able to show how much joy, comfort, and energy can be given to audiences by films and creators of cultural arts by holding a safe and fun festival that adhered to strict disease-prevention measures during a global pandemic. For the next two weeks, the festival will continue to closely monitor if any positive cases are reported among visitors, and it will respond swiftly if such a situation occurs. BIFAN thank everyone who joined it for the 25th edition of the festival, as well as those who gave us their support. BIFAN will greet you all with the 26th edition in the summer of 2022.