Puchon is a dormitory town south of Seoul, which has now been swallowed up by the city. It owes its fortunes to media industries such as animation and special effects. It is also known for its cinema festival, PiFan: the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival – the largest of its kind in Asia.
It’s a unique festival which for 10 days each summer showcases “genre films”, thrillers, slashers, fantasy such as sci-fi, ghosts and zombies.
It’s a shop window for Korean and Asian film-making – which is currently booming. The festival also invites films and film-makers from all around the world. Among them is French director Pascal Laugier, with his film Martyrs, a black and bloody film which is currently on release in Korea.
More than 200 films, an official competition, 10 programmes of short films, 15 themed and retrospective programmes: the PiFan programmers don’t let the grass grow under their feet.
There are also lots of Asian and Korean films showing outside the competition, like “Norwegian Wood” shown within the World Fantastic Cinema programme. It’s a film which combines comedy and gore.
The festival has been an incredible success with the public, cinemas being 90% full. There have also been presentations for the less faint-hearted. A favourite at the festival was “The Neighbour Zombie”, a collection of sketches directed by four young Korean film makers making their debut film.
A virus which could be AIDS
or Swine Flu is spreading in Seoul in the near future. The infected people become zombies even before the virus is discovered. The 4 short stories of the film are 4 visions of what could happen in such a situation.
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, so at the end of every 12 year cycle, the 13th year is always considered as a new beginning. A lucky sign for the Director of the Festival.
For the past two years PiFan has also included a Film Market – NAFF
– which is increasingly important for meetings and financing genre productions…
For the closing ceremony the red carpet was rolled out at the Citizen’s Hall in Puchon, in the city centre. Choo Sang Mi, a popular Korean actress and a member of the Jury was warmly greeted.
As for the awards The Neighbour Zombie won two prizes, the Jury Prize and the Public’s Choice.
Indonesian film “The Forbidden Door” won the Grand Prix. The film is a dark tale about a young artist who finds a door that opens onto unknown lands, somewhere between the past, the unconscious, the unknowing and other mysteries. A success in terms of suspense and fear. The director, who was also at PiFan two years ago, was totally surprized to win this prize.
PiFan was simultaneously a cultural and a popular success. Genre films have definitely won their spurs in Korea.
For more information about the festival see: