On June 7 (WED) the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN, Executive Director Shin Chul) held an official press conference to announce the complete line up of the upcoming 27th edition, taking place from June 29 to July 9 at Bucheon City. Bucheon City Hall will be the epicenter of the festival, and films will also be screened at the CGV Sopung, the Korean Manwha Museum and the Megabox Bucheon Starfield City. Online screenings will be available on the OTT platform wavve. During the 10-day fiesta 262 films from 51 countries will be screened, including 81 world premieres, 26 international premiere, 61 Asian premieres and 56 Korean premieres. The festival will be opened with Beau Is Afraid, the latest work of Ari Aster who already captivated movie fans around the world with Hereditary
, and closed with Sana by Shimizu Takashi, the master of J-Horror known for his Ju-on series. Sana
, that will have its world premiere at the festival once again, shows Shimizu’s outstanding directing skills in creating a creepy, lingering tension.
# Asia's Largest Genre Film Festival "Stays Strange"
BIFAN's flagship program, the international competition section Bucheon Choice: Features is filled with challenging genre films full of energy from all over the world. A total of 10 movies will compete at this section including Tiger Stripes, the winner of this year’s Cannes’ Critics’ Week Grand Jury Prize, Bad Education, the debut of actor-turned-director Kai Ko, The Artifice Girl, Disorder, Restore Point, The Seeding, Sorcery, Superposition, Whale Bones, and You'll Never Find Me. The Mad Max section will feature new works by genre film masters such as Quentin Dupieux with Smoking Causes Coughing, Álex de la Iglesia with Four’s a Crowd, the Adrenaline Drive section will satisfy genre film enthusiasts with authentic horror, hardcore, and action genre movies such as Evil Dead Rise, Infinity Pool, or Terrifier 2. The Special Program Folk Horror: Lands of Cruelty, Beliefs of Terror will examine recent trends in the international horror cinema.
# &Master CHOI MIN SIK and other special programs
The main character of this year's special spotlight is Choi Min Sik, an actor who personifies Korean cinema itself. A selection of 10 representative films will be screened including Old Boy, Shiri, and I Saw the Devil, and two earlier short films that have been digitally restored. A commemorative booklet will be published, an exhibition, and a Mega Talk with the actor himself will be held, as well. At the Strange Homage section, eight restored films are waiting for the audience, including David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch, and Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio. Other unique BIFAN specials have been prepared like the Night of the Living 'Duk-hu', where Killing Romance, a film hit from the first half of 2023, will meet its fans, and the special event B My Guest where selected directors and producers will talk with the audience.
# Celebrating Bucheon’s 50th Anniversary as a City
BIFAN has prepared an extended program of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bucheon together with its citizens, showing the harmonious relationship between the city and the festival. The Carnival in July, a public event for and with the citizens of Bucheon, which received great response last year, will be held on a larger scale with events in the shopping districts and hotels.
In addition, at the special program Bucheon City 50th Anniversary Celebration a selection of films that were released in 1973, the foundation year of Bucheon City, will be screened. The selected films are: American Graffiti, Enter the Dragon, Flesh for Frankenstein and The Wicker Man: Final Cut. With this masterpieces of film history BIFAN wants to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bucheon, a city that has developed into a true cultural hub for cinema, comics, and webtoons. In addition, the Goedam Campus has organized the 'Bucheon Goedam Contest' to uncover Goedams set in Bucheon and selected 11 chilling Bucheon ghost stories among 118 submissions to be published and distributed in the booklet ‘Bucheon Goedam Collection.’ The Goedams give a narrative to the space of Bucheon and open opportunities for further development into various contents in the future (Goedam means strange story or ghost story in Korean).
# Beyond Reality
This year's Beyond Reality actively introduces works that are expanding into architecture and the performing arts. Additionally, there will be a 'Content Jam' workshop, utilizing generative artificial intelligence and motion capture to produce visually stunning results instantly. While technology cannot always provide definitive answers to art, creators will have the opportunity to gain faithful and efficient assistance.
# Cinema+ – BIFAN’s New Keyword to Think about the Future of Cinema
Under Cinema+, this year’s keyword, BIFAN aims to evaluate the present and envision the future of Korean cinema with the fusion and combination of Korean pop culture such as K-Series, K-Pop, and K-Webtoon. Korean Fantastic: At Cinema + K-Pop DJ and producer 250, who created the girl group NewJeans, will talk with the audience after the documentary Search of Ppong. This program will also explore the intersection of film and K-Pop through the screening of two documentaries about BTS. BIFAN is also expanding its scope to webtoons in collaboration with the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency. A conference will be held to deal with issues surrounding content copyrights issues webtoons, movies, and series. Additionally, a networking event will be set up for film and webtoon creators and industry professionals during BIFAN. and efficient assistance.
# Asia’s Largest Genre Film Platform B.I.G
This year’s BIFAN Industry Gathering (B.I.G.) brings strengthened globalized programs with complete onsite schedules and complimentary online programs, including P/I screenings, workshops, and industry meetings for its three main components: NAFF Project Market, NAFF Fantastic Film School, and Made in Asia. NAFF Project Market welcomes back numerous overseas partners and new ones in this post-pandemic edition. 29 carefully chosen projects from 18 countries are invited to the market. The Country Spotlight Japan includes five projects supported by the Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO) from Japan, such as new works by Takahashi Hiroshi and Kumakiri Kazuyoshi. This year’s NAFF Fantastic Film School has appointed Barry Sabath, senior lecturer at the American Film Institute (AFI), who will also host a master class.
# Made in Asia taking a Leap Forward
Once again, Made in Asia takes a leap forward. Through the regular publication of industry reports to share standardized market information, and an industry forums bringing together key players of the Asian film industry, Made in Asia’s original aim to provide a platform for exchange and cooperation among the various Asian film industries has been further strengthened. The annual ‘Asian Film Industry Report has expanded to a total of 17 countries, including Central Asian countries and Mongolia, and looks for long-term partnerships and cooperation to share solutions and visions through forums dealing with major current issues of the Asian film industry. The forum will have three sessions with the key agenda of crisis and transition, including “Korea-Japan Film Industry Forum: Film Industry of ‘Endemic’ era, Diagnosis & Solution", “Asian Film Industry Forum: Future of Asian Film Industry,” and “When East meets East: Vitalizing film collaboration in Asia”, co-hosted by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).
# Goedam Campus, Season 4’
Goedam Campus, launched by BIFAN in partnership with the Bucheon UNESCO Creative City of Literature to discover stories and creative talents, will hold its 4th season this year. 11 winners of the Bucheon Goedam Competition, will be published in the 'Bucheon Goedam Collection', that will be distributed to festival guests and public libraries. The stories will make Bucheon more known and can be an inspiration for future content. Seven movies that received short movie production support last year will have their world premiere at BIFAN this year. Also, BIFAN signed agreements with Indonesia’s Jakarta Film Week and the Taiwan Creative Content Agency to start the Goedam Residency this year. Under this support program creative talents of both countries are invited to stay to Bucheon. During the festival, acclaimed author, Seo Miae, known as the ‘queen of mystery novels’, will share her creative secrets at the Goedam Class Part 2. Create Content from Goedam. Additionally, there will be a mini book exhibition of genre literature with genre book publishers like Mineumsa The Golden Bough. The eight selected projects for the Goedam Planning & Development Camp receive three months of mentoring and will be pitched publicly in the latter half of the year.
# Carnival in July – Large Scale Public Event from June 30 to July 2
The Carnival in July is a BIFAN community event, created together with the citizens for the citizens of Bucheon. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bucheon City, the fiesta will unfold in a new universe called Bari’s World from June 30 to July 2, inspired by the story of Princess Bari. After the end of the pandemic, the program will allow even more festival audience and citizens to celebrate and indulge in thrilling adventures.
At the press conference, Chung Jiyoung, Chairperson of the Festival Organizing Committee, said:” To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bucheon City, BIFAN is preparing for this year's edition as a fiesta that audience and citizens can enjoy harmoniously together.” Festival Director Shin Chul added: “By introducing ‘Cinema+' as its new keyword in this rapidly changing environment of a film industry, BIFAN wants to encourage filmmakers, audience, and the citizens to observe and ponder about the future of an expanding cinema”.
The official press conference took place at 10am at the Fantastic Cube in Bucheon City Hall and at 2 p.m. at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul. Chairperson of the BIFAN rganizing committee Chung Jiyoung, festival director Shin Chul, program director Ellen Y.D. Kim, B.I.G organizer and programmer Jongsuk Thomas Nam, programmer Mo Eunyoung and Jin Park, and XR curator Jay Kim and the and director of the Carnival in July, Cho Young-shin were present.