BIFAN 2023 Wraps with Record Number

DATE2023.07.11Hit 744

BIFAN 2023 Wraps with Record Number
11 Days journey comes to an end
262 movies from 51 countries watched by 67,274 people
18.2% increase compared to 2022
Ari Aster, Choi Min Sik, Kai Ko, Shimizu Takashi and many others welcomed by an enthusiastic festival audience
70,980 visitors gathered at festival events like Carnival in July and Master CHOI MIN SIK exhibition
Recognized as Asia’s leading industry platform seeking solutions for a transforming film industry


The 27th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN, Festival Director Shin Chul) finally concluded its 11-day fantastic journey on July 9th. An enthusiastic audience of 138,254 (67,274 tickets issued for film screenings, 70,980 event participants and exhibition visitors) attended the fiesta under Bucheon’s summer sky – eleven days of joy for cinema lovers and citizens, reminiscent of the festival's editions with its vibrant atmosphere before the pandemic.

The 27th edition of BIFAN, which opened on June 29th at the Bucheon City Hall Lawn Square, showed a total of 262 films from 51 countries (121 feature films, 110 short films, 31 XR works) across six theaters with thirteen screens, and on the online screening platform Wavve. Despite the rainy weather, the enthusiasm of the citizens and audience gathered under the large dome set up at the Bucheon City Hall Grass Square continued until the closing ceremony.

As of the closing day, July 9th, this year's BIFAN counted a total of 67,274 tickets issued for film screenings. Among them, 39,365 were issued for screening at festival cinemas, and 8,530 tickets were issued for BIFAN’s XR section Beyond Reality at the Bucheon Art Bunker B39. A total of 19,379 times movies were watched on the festival’s online platform Wavve. These numbers indicate an 18.2% increase compared to last year's of 56,910.

Among the 2,134 guests who visited BIFAN this year, there were 328 international guests. This represents a significant increase of 64.8% compared to last year's 199 international guests.
Among the notable overseas guests visiting BIFAN were the directors and programmers from the Geneva, Sitges, Udine, Toronto, and Brussels International Film Festivals.
Ari Aster, director of the opening film Beau Is Afraid, made his first visit to Korea, and renowned Korean actor Choi Min Sik was honored with the actor’s retrospective this year. Taiwanese actor Kai Ko who was invited to the festival with his directorial debut film Bad Education, received enthusiastic cheers from the audience wherever he appeared. Especially the symbolic picture of Ahn Sung-ki, Park Joong-hoon and Choi Min Sik, as they walked down the red carpet side by side at the opening ceremony left a deep impression on the audience as the living legends of Korean cinema.
Furthermore, actors and actresses like Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Sun-kyun, Lee Ha-nee, Gong Myoung, Kim Taek, Kim Hye-na, Nam Yeon-woo, Bae Yoo-ram, Sunye, Yang Dong-keun, Yu Jun-sang, Oh Tae-kyung, Jang Dong-yun, Jang Seo-hee, Jung Jin-woon, Lee Shin-young, and Hwang Chi-yeul, as well as directors Byun Sung-hyun, Lee Wonsuk, and Jang Hang-jun shared serious and joyful conversations about cinema with the audience, creating unforgettable memories.
Especially Shimizu Takashi, the director of the closing film Sana and his actress Hoshi Tomoko, as well as the directors of Life of Mariko in Kabukicho Uchida Eiji and Katayama Shinzo received enthusiastic applause from the audience and fans lined up to get autographs after the film screenings. Such scenes showed the return of a genuine film festival atmosphere after the pandemic years, with people enjoying themselves without the burden of having to wear a mask.

In commemoration of Bucheon City's 50th anniversary, the Carnival in July was prepared on a larger scale. The fiesta took place during the first festival weekend from June 30 to July 2 at various locations in Bucheon, centering around Bucheon City Hall’s Lawn Square, the adjacent commercial districts, the An Jung-geun Park, the Migwan Square and the Sohyang-ro (road). All events were free of charge except for the Blood Battle of the Century (water gun fights). 47,182 citizens and festival guests took part the fiesta, up 51,6% from last year (31,110). Guests enjoyed the Bari Parade and the Ascension Night Party – a large-scale DJ dance party – in the evening, and visited the experiential playgrounds and special programs during the day. They were sad that the fiesta came to an end so soon. The Bari Hotel stay-and-experience program encouraged guests from outside Bucheon to spend the night at the city. The Bari Market with lots of discounts and lottery events benefited both, the local economy and the guests of the fiesta.

The special exhibition of this year’s actor’s retrospective Master CHOI MIN SIK that was held at Hyundai Department Store's Jungdong, was visited by 22,837 people. Because of the great resonance the exhibition was prolonged for one more week and thus will attract even more audience. Choi Min Sik had a special time to communicate directly with the audience at the opening of the exhibition and during a Mega Talk session. The high attendance at the Master classes of Tezka Macoto’s Visualism, Konaka Kazuya’s From Ultraman to Single 8, and the session of famous Korean production designer Han Ah-reum, as well as at the Folk Horror at Large, SF Special Talk and B My Guest event showed the high interest of the BIFAN guests.

BIFAN's industry program, B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering), took place from June 30th to July 4th. This year, a total of 122 companies conducted 605 business meetings (585 offline and 20 online) with the directors and producers of the 29 invited NAFF projects from 19 countries. This marked an increase of 228 meetings (approximately 60%) compared to the previous year, indicating the high interest of Korean and international industry professionals in the NAFF Project Market.
The Fantastic Film School, held from June 29th to July 5th was led by Barry Sabath, senior lecturer at the AFI where he also mentored Ari Aster. Thirty participants from Korea and overseas participated in the education program for emerging filmmakers. The Fantastic Film School lectures were also streamed online for general audience, and a total of 1,737 viewings were recorded.

B.I.G's Made in Asia analyzed the current status of the Asian film industry and enhanced networking. This year, it expanded the scope of the Asian Film Industry Report to 17 countries thus providing a broader perspective. The Made in Asia Forum, which was divided into three parts, fostered in-depth discussions on collaborative development strategies for Asian cinema. BIFAN, which since a long time has contributed to development of Asian cinema and the collaboration between the various Asian film industries, has been recognized as a key platform for the Asian film industry to develop further.

The Goedam Campus (goedam = strange or ghost story) program achieved fruitful results and expanded its scope this year. Seven films that received production support previously had their world premiere at this year's BIFAN. Additionally, Goedam Residency, a new initiative was launched through partnerships with institutions from Indonesia and Taiwan, inviting talented filmmakers from overseas. Furthermore, a publication titled Bucheon Goedam Collection was published, containing 11 intriguing and fascinating stories about Bucheon that won awards in the Bucheon Goedam Contest. The book was distributed to relevant organizations and filmmakers. The Goedam Campus program will continue to expand its role as a platform for discovering original stories, nurturing up-and-coming talents, and fostering exchanges.

Under ‘Cinema+’, a new BIFAN keyword this year added this year, experts were discussing the various perspectives of the transition the film industry is currently facing. Together with the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency (KOMACON) and the Directors Guild of Korea (DGK), BIFAN set up the Cinema+ K-Webtoon Conference to explore the convergence of various cultural forms such as webtoons, novels, and K-POP and discuss copy right issues. BIFAN plans to continue the exchange and collaboration with the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency by hosting a Cinema + K-Webtoon Project Contest in the future.

BIFAN’s XR section Beyond Reality allowed attendees to fully grasp the future of storytelling through a variety of formats and contents. It operated a diverse range of exhibitions and talk programs that combined technology and art, establishing itself as a leading program in driving the four major XR film festivals in Asia. This section served as a platform for the fusion of technology and art, presenting a rich and immersive experience for attendees to explore the possibilities of XR storytelling.

BIFAN’s 27th edition opened on Thursday, June 29 with the opening ceremony under the large dome temporarily erected over the Lawn Square behind Bucheon City Hall, and closed on Sunday, July 9, with the closing ceremony at the Main Theater inside the city hall. Over the period of the festival, the city hall and the surrounding area served as the hub of the festival. Films were screened at CGV Sopung, the Korea Manhwa Museum and the Megabox Bucheon Starfield City. Industry people gathered at the Koryo Hotel to attend the NAFF Project Market and the Made in Asia Forum, the two core items of BIFAN’s industry program B.I.G. Beyond Reality, BIFAN’s XR section, the Fantastic Film School and Goedam Campus took place at the Bucheon Art Bunker B39. The special exhibition of this year’s actor’s retrospective Master CHOI MIN SIK can still be enjoyed at the Hyundai Department Store Jungdong as it has been prolonged for one more week till Sunday, July 16.