The Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival revealed this year’s NAFF Project Market line-up: a total of twenty-nine feature film projects from 18 countries have been selected, including 17 NAFF It Projects, 5 Spotlight Japan projects, 4 Nordic Genre Invasion projects, and one project each for the Blood Window, the Sitges FanPitch and Cannes’ Fantastic 7.
NAFF received 279 submissions from forty countries worldwide, showing an increase in both the number of countries and projects compared to last year. Particularly, the number of international projects reached an all-time high with 222 submissions (58 more than last year, from 4 more countries), demonstrating the influence of NAFF as a global genre film industry platform.
The project selection also reflects the advancement of emerging Asian filmmakers. In addition to traditional horror and thriller genre stories, projects addressing social and political issues in Asia through the action and science fiction genres drew attention. The high number of series among the projects reveals the ongoing changes in the film and media industry.
This year’s projects were selected by the preliminary Jury consisting of Paul D. KIM, CEO of Hive Filmworks; Danny Daehee PARK, CEO of IRON PACK; CHOI Jeonghwa, president of the Producers Guild of Korea; and HAN Sunhee, CEO of Plain Pictures along with BIFAN’s Jongsuk Thomas NAM, MO Eunyoung and Samantha MOON. The jury commented: “… Above all, we tried to select projects that overcome stereotypes and break new ground. In particular, the tendency of Korean projects to go beyond the framework of the genre makes us look forward to the future of the ever-evolving Korean cinema.”
This year, NAFF will expand its support for international projects through active cooperation with overseas film festivals and institutions such as the Sitges Film Festival (Spain), Blood Window (Argentina), and Japan's Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO), Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) and the Taipei Film Commission. For the first time in four years, NAFF is spotlighting international projects with Japan as its Project Spotlight country. In addition, Nordic Genre Invasion, Sitges FanPitch, and Blood Window will showcase outstanding overseas genre film projects.
The Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) is the world's first genre-exclusive film industry program launched in 2008. Over the past 16 years, 430 projects have been selected for the NAFF Project Market, and 90 projects have been completed as feature films. Finished films continue to attract attention at various Korean and international film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, or Sitges, and were released theatrically in many countries or distributed online on various OTT platforms.
For example, this year, Tiger Stripes (NAFF It Project 2019: Sitges PitchBox Award) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival's Critics' Week. In My Mother's Skin (NAFF It Project 2020: Asian Discovery Award at NAFF) was also invited to the Midnight Section of the Sundance Film Festival this year. Marry My Dead Body (It Project 2020: NAFF Bucheon Award) was the closing film of the 2022 Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan and was released theatrically in Korea last May, and Annapurna (NAFF Work in Progress 2022) received a special mention at the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival in New Delhi, India.
The 16th B.I.G. NAFF Project Market will take place from June 30 to July 3, over the first weekend of the 27th edition of the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and will run from June 29 to July 9. While the NAFF Project Market will open at the Koryo Hotel, the festival will center around Bucheon City Hall, with two main theaters inside and many of the festival’s facilities outside the building. Screenings will also take place at the CGV Sopung, the Korean Manhwa Museum, and the Megabox Bucheon Starfield City. Online screenings will be available on Wavve. The audience can get immersed in BIFAN’s XR section, Beyond Reality, at Bucheon Art Bunker B39. The Carnival in July, a three-day public event for citizens of Bucheon from June 30 to July 2, will take place at and around the Lawn Square behind Bucheon City Hall and on Sohyang-ro Street.
※ For NAFF Project Market’s statement of the jury and complete line-up, please see below.
Comments of the Preliminary Jury
The 16th edition of the NAFF Project Market received a record-breaking total of 279 submissions from 40 countries. Despite the significant changes in the film and media industry following the pandemic, it was still possible to encounter a diverse range of feature films and series projects within the boundaries of traditional genre cinema. The participation of 222 international projects was particularly noteworthy, solidifying NAFF's position as Asia’s leading genre project market.
This year, many projects reflecting the various interests of emerging Asian filmmakers in genre films were submitted. In addition to the traditional horror and thriller genre, there were also intriguing projects that satirized social and political issues in Asian countries employing the action and Sci-Fi genres. It was also remarkable that a considerable number of projects were submitted from Japan and Taiwan. The submitted projects also showed the excellent project development skills of directors and producers trained in various film workshops and educational institutions worldwide, including BIFAN’s NAFF Fantastic Film School.
While NAFF It Project entries often had provocative and witty stories in the past, this year's international submissions tended to have darker and more introspective tones. However, there was a bit of disappointment with projects adhering to familiar horror and thriller genre conventions. On the other hand, the Korean projects showed how Korean cinema continually evolves, showing incessant efforts to transcend convention beyond the frame.
The jury particularly paid attention to projects that overcome stereotypes and invent new modes of expression. By introducing new faces and innovative stories in Asian genre cinema, the jury hopes that all selected projects will evolve into great films. Finally, they wish to thank all applicants for their constant efforts amidst a challenging industry environment that has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic.
Members of the preliminary jury
Paul D. KIM, Hive Filmworks, CEO
Danny Daehee PARK, IRON PACK, CEO
CHOI Jeonghwa, Producers Guild of Korea, President
HAN Sunhee, Plain Pictures, CEO
Jongsuk Thomas NAM, BIFAN, Programmer / B.I.G Organizer
MO Eunyoung, BIFAN, Programmer Korean cinema
Samantha MOON, BIFAN, Industry Program Manager
■ It Project Selections * in alphabetical order