BIFAN 2021 Overview
How to usher in the inevitable evolution of the festival
Met with the novel challenges in the era of pandemic, last year’s festival, the 24th BIFAN, was held in a hybrid mode of on and offline while downsizing the scale and ramping up the support. This year, while preparing for the 25th BIFAN, we found ourselves asking the question, “Can the film industry, its festival and our lives go back to the way they were before the pandemic?” The changes to our daily lives, brought forward by the pandemic, expedited the birth and manifestation of identities in a new environment, in which the importance of information communication technology is heightened, and such changes are not likely to be undone once the pandemic is contained. Thus, in essence, the meaning and the role of cinema and film festivals will become more important. However, its form will inevitably have to evolve due to the limitation on mass gathering in physical theatres, and re-creation of a spectacle.
The properties of Bucheon City and its film festival
Bucheon is not a tourist city nor is it a home to remarkable historical significance. Other than the creative works that came from nothing but artists’ inspiration, it has no considerable resources. The cultural heritage cannot become a spectacle or attraction on its own, therefore, inventive imagination and its byproducts must become the attraction that can charm and lure in the public. BIFAN has proudly been a place where creative talents were supported and cherished from all mediums of art, such as popular music and visual art, with cinema at its center. The pandemic laid a ground for the birth of a new virtual community, and in it, we found ourselves with new identities. This is where we spot the possibility for the city of Bucheon to overcome the limitations of its physical properties.
Restructuring through imagination and creativity: The start of the evolution
BIFAN has continuously grown for the last 20 years. It started as a festival centering around its screening program, and throughout the years, it added an industry-based program, B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering), and Beyond Reality, a new media XR program, which has shown stable growth for the last six years. In addition, Scary Tales Archive, which began last year, is evolving into Scary Tales Campus. Going back to the original intention of the festival, the aforementioned four branches of BIFAN will be restructured under the renewed theme of discovering and nurturing imagination and creativity.
- New Media XR
- IP·Discovering and
nurturing new talents
Scary Tales Campus
A festival that comes to you
Through the Screening Program, 209 films that reflect BIFAN’s identity were hand-picked to satisfy the audience's palates, which will be screened through physical theatres at the festival site as well as through an online platform, Wavve. One will be especially delighted to find that the films will be available online for three more days (including the weekend) after the closing of the festival, so that the audience has the chance to watch the hottest films of the festival. The directors whose works are submitted to competition will have opportunities to virtually meet the audience through live-streamed Guest Visits, and Conversation with the Audience, attended by Korean filmmakers, will be a golden opportunity to have a direct conversation with the creators of Korean cinema. An incineration plant-turned-art space, Bucheon Art Bunker B39, will host a variety of special events and concerts, and the festival will also offer an array of merchandises, including artsy posters and program books, to satisfy the audience between the age 20 and 30.
Beyond Reality: An experiment for evolution
Since its birth, cinema has always been the story-telling medium that is highly susceptible to technological advancement. filmmakers were quick to adopt the latest optical and acoustical technology of the time to help the audience be absorbed into the films, and where there is a lack of technology, the audience made up for it with their imaginative power. And now, we are heralding an era where the audience no longer stays outside the movie, but gets into it to experience it themselves. For the last six years, BIFAN has placed a special attention to new types of media through its Beyond Reality section. This year, it presents films that go beyond visual and spatial limits, which turn them from storytelling into story-living mediums. Aside from 49 official selections, it will show awarded films from Cannes Film Festival and NewImages Film Festival through XR3 Collaboration Exhibition as well as about 80 pieces of VR films. Without a doubt, it will offer a glimpse into the future of cinema and the direction of its evolution.
B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering): Offering an online platform to connect
Nurtured by NAFF, Network of Asian Fantastic Films, which was created in 2008, BIFAN Industry Gathering (B.I.G), which is an industry platform for Asian genre films, was officially introduced last year. The online project market went beyond limitations of physical distance and connected the global genre film industry online, and the new talents in Asian genre films took classes from the genre’s masters through online classes offered by Fantastic Film School. Through the post-production support, Work in Progress, which was launched last year, a total of three films were completed, and six more films are awaiting to receive its support.
This year, a record-high number of 40 projects from 29 countries will participate in business meetings offered by b.square, an online business meeting platform. b.square is an online meeting platform used by Cannes Market and Sundance Film Festival, and it offers an optimal business environment and monitoring system necessary for the B.I.G guests and project participants. In addition, BIFAN selected gather.town, an event platform, which enables virtual interaction to boost networking among participants. Through gather.town, the participants interact by selecting avatars in a virtual space.
Taking full advantage of an online setting, Fantastic Film School has invited director Tony Kaye, who made films such as American History X (1998) and Detachment (2011) to conduct Master Class, and many classes by other renowned filmmakers were offered as well to a total of 100 participants with 35 students and 65 additional auditors.
Scary Tales Archive to Scary Tales Campus: Testifying the power of storytelling
Scary Tales Archive began with discovering and collecting scary stories, and providing necessary support to turn them into short films. The Archive has evolved into a Campus this year to incorporate support for planning and developing scary tales, production support for short films, and screenwriting classes for youth to discover and nurture new talents. The short films that received production support last year will be screened this year, and works in development from this year’s Scary Tales Planning and Development Camp will have a chance to pitch their films to investors during the festival period. In association with Project Market of B.I.G and post-production support with Work in Progress as well as Distribution Award, our aim is to create a Scary Tales Ecosystem, where films and contents yield a virtuous cycle around scary tales. Scary Tale Campus will certainly be the nurturing engine it needs.
It’s okay to be weird.
In these shifting times, our message to the audience is this: It’s okay to be weird. This can also sound as if we’re offering consolation, but our message is that, in these uncertain times, weirdness can be a powerful vehicle through which one can find a unique path for oneself and successfully evolve and adapt to the new normal.