BIFAN 2023 Winners and Closing Film

DATE2023.07.08Hit 752

BIFAN 2023 Winners and Closing Film
Sorcery wins Best of Bucheon Best Korean Fantastic Film is IRON MASK
The Artifice Girl scores Jury’s Choice and Audience Award
Korean Fantastic Audience Award goes to Abroad
BIFAN 2023 closes with the world premiere of Sana by Japanese horror master Shimizu Takashi

▲ Group photo with all BIFAN 2023 award winners.
On Friday, July 7th, the 27th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival was officially closed and announced the winners of this year’s feature competition sections. The closing ceremony took place at the well-filled 500 plus seats Main Theater inside Bucheon City Hall, the main hub of the festival, Korean actress Yea Ji-won and actor Cho Seong-ha lead through the ceremony, Cho Yong-eek, Mayor of Bucheon City and film director Chung Jiyoung, the two chairmen of the Festival Organizing Committee declared BIFAN 2023 closed. The ceremony was followed by the screening of the festival’s closing film Sanaby Japanese horror master Shimizu Takashi, a world premiere.

Festival director Shin Chul commented the approaching end of the festival with the following words: “I would like to thank everyone who despite the hot and humid weather participated in various events and programs, my thank goes to all who flocked to the theaters watching films, who got immersed at the XR exhibition Beyond Reality, and who enjoyed the Carnival in July."

At the Bucheon Choice: Features section 10 international films competed for four awards, the Best of Bucheon Award, the Best Director Choice Award, the Jury’s Choice Award and the Audience Award. At the Korean Fantastic section 10 Korean movies – nine world premieres and one Asian premiere – competed for 6 awards, the Best Korean Fantastic Film Award, the Korean Fantastic Best Director Award, the Korean Fantastic Actors Awards, the Korean Fantastic Audience Award, the Nonghyup Award and the Watcha’s Pick for Korean Fantastic Award. Additionally prizes were the Award for Best Asian Film of the Méliès International Festivals Federation (MIFF), the NETPAC Award and Odd Family Award.
▲ Christopher Murray won the Best of Bucheon Award for Sorcery
BIFAN’s top prize, the Best of Bucheon Award went to Sorcery, directed by Christopher Murray, a Chilean-Mexican-German coproduction. Inspired by a true story from the end of the 19th century an indigenous girl living on a remote island turns to witchcraft to seek justice for her father. The jury commented their decision in saying: “Vividly taking the audience to an atmospheric place and time, this hushed Chilean thriller blends drama and mysticism to astutely depict a collision of colonial attitudes, local politics and indigenous magic.” Christopher Murray thanked the jury saying: “I want to dedicate this prize to the people where the film was shot because it is a story that is based on their story, and all the people from the island who participated in the film.”

Danish director Karoline Lyngbye scored the Director Choice Award for her feature film debut Superposition. The jury explained their decision to give the award to the doppelganger thriller in saying: “Working from a twisted premise, director Karoline Lyngbye adeptly helps the viewer share the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by characters who must either forgive each other or try to erase their problems, perhaps creating new ones in the process.” Director Karoline Lyngbye commented: “BIFAN's support is a big boost at a time when making movies is becoming increasingly difficult.”

The Jury’s Choice Award was scored by The Artifice Girl, directed by Franklin Ritch with the jury commenting: "Beautifully performed by a small cast, this tightly written drama brings up huge ideas that continually challenge us about the concept of artificial intelligence. So as this digitally created girl evolves to become more sentient, the film grows increasingly humane.” The Artifice Girl also convinced the audience as it scored also the Audience Award. Director Franklin Ritch thanked the audience commenting: “I want to thank all of you who came to see the film, and voted for me, obviously I received this award because of you. Thank you so much for all the tremendous support.”
▲ Kim Sung Hwan, the winner of the Korean Fantastic Film Award for IRON MASK
The main prize of the Korean Fantastic: Feature Film went to IRON MASK, directed by Kim Sung Hwan. The jury praised the film, saying, "The film demonstrates a high level of harmony among directing, cinematography, sound, and acting, resulting in a highly accomplished work." The director gave credits to the actors saying: “Above all this film has been made thanks to the actors sweating together.” He went on saying: “I hope that when the film is released in theaters, it will have the opportunity to meet a larger audience.”
The Korean Fantastic Best Director Award went to Risk Society, directed by Kim Byung Jun. The jury members commented their decision in saying: “It showcases the director's unwavering passion and creativity, making it a truly outstanding film.” Directed Kim Byung Jun expressed his surprise about the award in saying: “I was gradually looking for other opportunities than working as a filmmaker when I received the news that my film had been invited to BIFAN. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to show it here and now even receive an award."
The jury of the Bucheon Choice: Features section consisted of British film critic Rich Cline, film writer, programmer and producer Kier-La Janisse, actress Kim Sunyoung, director and producer Kazuya Konaka, and director Lee Wonsuk.

The Korean Fantastic Actors Awards went to Jang Seongbeom for his role in Abroad, directed by Giovanni Fumu, and Jung E-seo for her role in Her Hobby >, directed by Ha Myung-mi. The jury explained the decision in commenting: “Jang Seongbeom delivered a remarkable performance showcasing a wide spectrum of acting, skillfully portraying a character that underwent occasional transformations, maximizing the fantasy elements of the film.” About Jung E-seo they said: “She builds the character’s psychological journey and rises sharply and expressed the character in an excellent way.”
Korean Fantastic Audience Award went also to Abroad. The Nonghyup Award was given to Her Hobby and Watcha’s Pick for Korean Fantastic went to IRON MASK.
Unknown Narrative: Skyrocket Junipers Under the Crescent, directed by YANG Gun-young received a special mention.
The jury for the Korean Fantastic: Feature section was made of three people: festival programmer and producer Cho Young Kag, festival director of the Jakarta Film Week Lina Damayanti, and filmmaker and screenwriter Park Dae Min.
▲ Members of the BIFAN Strange Children Jury and the award winners of the Strange Family Award – the teams of Battery Mommy and Burger Song Challenge
The BIFAN Strange Children Jury selecting the best film from the Odd Family section gave the Strange Family Award to two films this year – Battery Mommy directed by Jeon Seungbae and Burger Song Challenge directed by Kim Min-ha.
The Méliès International Festivals Federation aims to discover and promote Asian genre films with the MIFF Award for Best Asian Film. This year the prize went to Best Regards to All by Japanese director Shimotsu Yuta.
The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) presented the NETPAC Award to the Hungry Ghost Diner from Malaysia directed by Cho We Jun.

Following the award ceremony, director Shimizu Takashi and lead actress Hoshi Tomoko of the closing film Sana went on stage to meet the audience. Shimizu Takashi, a figure synonymous with J-Horror, known for his mastery of sustaining tension since his creation of the Ju-On franchise chose BIFAN for the world premiere of his latest masterpiece where a staff member at a radio station stumbles upon a long forgotten cassette tape and plays it during a radio show hosted by a pop idol. The closing ceremony concluded with the screening of the closing film.
▲ Shimizu Takashi, director of the closing film Sana, and lead actress Hoshi Tomoko on stage
BIFAN’s 27th edition will continue till Sunday, July 9, at Bucheon City Hall, CGV Sopung, the Korea Manhwa Museum and the Megabox Bucheon Starfield City. Films can be also watched through the online platform wave. Beyond Reality, BIFAN’s XR runs at the Bucheon Art Bunker B39 and the special exhibition Master CHOI MIN SIK can be enjoyed at the Hyundai Department Store Jungdong.