Introducation

BIFAN2020 Overview

TITLE 24th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival
CHARACTERISTICS Non-competitive international film festival with competitive section
MISSION To amplify genre talent and introduce it to the world
SCALE 173 films from 42 countries (88 features, 85 shorts)
  • World Premiere (WP) 72 films (22 features, 50 shorts)
  • International Premiere (IP) 9 films (7 features, 2 shorts)
  • Asian Premiere (AP) 35 films (27 features, 8 shorts)
  • Korean Premiere (KP) 37 films (31 features, 6 shorts)
DATE & VENUES 2020, July 9(Thu) - July 16(Thu), 8 days
  • Opening Ceremony: July 9(Thu) CGV Sopung
  • Closing Ceremony: July 16(Thu) CGV Sopung
  • Theaters : CGV Sopung
  • Online Platform : Watcha(a total of 69 films scheduled to be screened online; 28 features, 31 shorts )

BIFAN2020 Features & Direction

1. Direction of the 24th BIFAN

Putting the Safety of Audiences and Citizens First

With the COVID-19 pandemic still continuing to spread around the world, the 24th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival put audience safety at the forefront of the overall planning of the festival. By putting preventative measures in place at theaters and event venues, ensuring social distancing takes places, working in close coordination with prevention/medical organizations, and promoting personal hygiene campaigns, BIFAN is committed to holding a safe event that minimizes the anxiety of audiences and citizens, and embraces those who have been struggling as a result of the restrictions placed on social activities.

The Launch of a Hybrid Film Festival: Combining Offline and Online Events

What does the future hold for cultural events like film festivals, which traditionally require face-to-face interaction? With the rapid rise in the use of online platforms, which can be seen in the expansion of online meetings and the development of OTT, we predict that there will also be many changes seen in the film festival sphere. With this in mind, BIFAN 2020 would like to present the blueprint for future film festivals: a “hybrid” film festival that keeps pace with the changing media environment, a festival that effectively combines offline and online events. In addition to screening this year’s 176 films at 8 theaters, BIFAN will be screening more than 69 films online - made possible through the festival’s partnership with Watcha/Watcha Player, an online platform developed in Korea. Overseas directors who cannot travel to Korea will be meeting audiences by introducing their films and giving talks online. Also, B.I.G (BIFAN’s genre film industry program) and the It Project market will be moving their platforms online in order to expand opportunities for participation and to operate effectively. The “Beyond Reality” program, which was established by BIFAN to actively introduce more XR/new media content than any other international film festival in Korea, will be expanding its offline base by operating in three regions within the metropolitan area; it will also be expanding the spaces where audiences can experience content online and participate in the program by collaborating with SKT Jump VR.

Expanding Support for Korean Genre Films: Supporting Korean Films Impacted by COVID-19

Due to the impact of COVID-19, which has dealt a severe blow to people all over the world, the South Korean film industry has been faced with an unprecedented difficulty. In the year 2020, the year that marks the 101st anniversary of Korean cinema, one of BIFAN’s goals was to “amplify genre talent and introduce it to the world.” In line with this goal, BIFAN is expanding the scale of projects that discover, foster, and support Korean genre film talents to KRW 700 million, which is a 500 million increase from last year. UNESCO Creative City Bucheon’s Storytelling Contest and the BIFAN X Unity Short Film Challenge - a project being done in collaboration with Unity, a real-time rendering platform - are story development and talent fostering projects that are being launched this year. In addition, BIFAN is collaborating with the Seoul Business Agency (SBA) and other post-production organizations and companies to provide in-kind support worth KRW 350 million, as well as support for the domestic distribution of Korean genre films, which has been increased to KRW 40 million. Award categories for new talent have also been added, in an effort to discover and support new genre film directors.

B.I.G: Expanding New Projects and Support

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BIFAN’s genre film industry program, B.I.G (Bucheon Industry Gathering), will be operating safely on online platforms this year. Three new completed films from the It Project market, which has helped 57 projects turn into movies since its launch in 2008, will be officially screened at BIFAN this year. Including the 11 projects from Project Spotlight Korea, a total of 30 film projects will be competing for the expanded cash awards and post-production support awards. In addition, the newly-launched Work in Progress program will also be awarding KRW 300 million worth of post-production support.
Fantastic Film School: Master Class with The Exorcist Director, William Friedkin Fantastic Film School, a program that fosters new genre film talent, will be holding a master class this year with Hollywood director William FRIEDKIN of The Exorcist. Although the director will be meeting with students online instead of face-to face, the class will provide a valuable opportunity for students to hear from a master director who has made his mark on the world of Hollywood genre films. There will also be a master class featuring concept artist Christian SCHEURER (Aquaman, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), who will be talking about the concept art of changing Hollywood production platforms. Also, with top Indonesia genre film director and this year’s director of Fantastic Film School, Joko ANWAR, at the helm, we will be holding a 7-day online workshop where international genre film experts will be giving in-depth lectures on their experiences and know-how.

Korean Genre Films at Cannes: Fantastic 7

Fantastic 7 is a program that was launched by the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film in 2019 to promote genre films. A total of seven film festivals were chosen to participate in the program as official partners, including BIFAN, Sitges - International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, South by Southwest, Toronto International Film Festival, International Film Festivals & Awards - Macao, CAiro International Film Festival, and the Guadalajara International Film Festival. The film project that has been selected to represent BIFAN this year is director KANG Minji’s Illicit, a Korea-U.S. co-production which was also a 2019 It Project selection. KANG Minji, who is also a 2018 graduate of the Fantastic Film School program, has been praised for weaving in elements of noir, thriller, action, and a coming-of-age story into Illicit in a unique way. This year’s Fantastic 7 program will consist of a pitching session on June 24 and an online meeting on June 26.

Beyond Reality: Expansion of Film Festival Content

Now in its fifth year, BIFAN’s XR (eXtended Reality) program, Beyond Reality, has been organized as an independent program as a response to the rapidly developing XR field and to strengthen the program’s role as the main platform for XR content. Outstanding XR content from Korea and abroad that go beyond the virtual stage and materialize the eXtended domain have been brought together. Even in the midst of the unprecedented difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the solidarity formed with China’s Sandbox Immersive Festival and Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Film Festival while establishing Asian XR events, high-quality contents have been secured. Through such contents and through the highlighting of new artists, audiences will get to see the present state of XR contents.

2. Program Trends

Emphasis on Sci-fi and Dystopian Disasters

As if to forecast a pandemic that looks like it came straight out of a movie, the sci-fi and dystopian disaster genres have a stronger presence at BIFAN this year than any other previous year. The styles and topics of the films are various and include things such as the threat of outer space, dystopian future and contagion, the fear of dehumanization, and the isolation and identity of man. One of the most high-anticipated works is the SF8 series, a “Korean sci-fi anthology” from eight of the most active genre film directors in Korea. The series is presenting a new model for release by being released on a variety of platforms, such as film festivals, television, and OTT. Also, as can be seen with a film like Fallen, in which a secret is unraveled through the concept of time travel, and films with a dystopian setup like Hunger and Fall Out, there are many movies that combine the sci-fi imagination with the format of genre film. Films such as Sputnik and The Antenna, which express socio-political criticism of totalitarianism and governmental authority, show an expanded horizon of sci-fi imagination. Venezuela’s first disaster action movie, Infection, which brings together a viral pandemic and zombies, is so vivid that it makes you feel as if you are watching a recent news clip. Lastly, Johann JOHANNSSON’s posthumous film, Last and First Men, is like a lyrical and cautious apocalyptic text that issues a warning on the future fall of mankind.

Rapid Progress of Female Directors

This year, the rapid progress that has been made by new female directors from all over the world can be seen in the films at BIFAN. Four films that were selected for the Bucheon Choice: Features section this year - Saint Maud (USA), Relic (Australia), Pelican Blood (Germany), and The Returned (Argentina) - present a new world of genre cinema by reinterpreting existing genre conventions through a feministic approach. What especially stands out is the thoughtful observation of beings that have not had a voice in the androcentric worlds that have dominated genre films for a long time. This progress of female directors can also be seen in Korean films. In films such as Go Back by SEO Eunyoung, which explores the trauma and inheritance of domestic violence and the problem between the attacker and the victim in the format of a crime thriller; Hunger by KANG Dayeon, which stands out for its fresh and original materialization of an apocalyptic world view; and Where Your Eyes Linger by HWANG Daseul, which bills itself as Korea’s first BL drama; the director of each film has established her own style within film’s genre.

Asian Genre Films: Diverse and Bold Attempts

This year’s Asian films show different variations in terms of theme and style. In Japanese films such as Taro the Fool and Life: Untitled, which tackle social issues such as youth-related problems and the realities of disadvantaged citizens, there is an energy bubbling under a calm surface that feels like it’s going to explode. In films such as Mrs. Noisy and A Girl Missing, the observation of the ambiguity of social truths, such as the truths that are covered up by the court of public opinion and situations where the attacker and victim are reversed, is worth paying attention to. iWeirDo is a Taiwanese film that was filmed entirely on an iPhone, and A Witness Out of the Blue is a movie from Hong Kong which features a unique character that breaks away from other stereotypical characters in existing genre films. A special program has been organized this year which focuses on the renaissance of cinema in China, where there has been significant growth in terms of the number of films made in a year, as well as in terms of scale and quality. Chinese genre films and animations are already at a world-class level, which can be seen as a result of an increase in investments in China, increased production quality, and higher expectations held by the Chinese people for films from their country. Other films that are guaranteed to deliver fresh entertainment are Indonesian films such as Gundala, which have been continuously experimenting with native superhero action and horror stories, as well as Cargo, RK/RKAY, and other Indian films which have been dominating the sci-fi and well-made comedy genres.