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Ko - production in Busan
  • 10th PiFan Comes to a Close
  • by Nigel D’Sa (KOFIC) /  Aug 07, 2006
  • The 10th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival held its closing ceremony July 20th with the top award going to Danish Film Adam's Apples by director Anders Thomas Jensen. The closing night film was Hong Kong director Pang Ho Cheung's moody but moving Isabella. The festival showed signs of recovery after last year's disastrous industry-led boycott over the firing of festival head KIM Hong-joon. While many local filmmakers were still hesitant to support this year's festival, more film companies were present than last year, and Korean distribution company Cinema Service sponsored its inaugural SHIN Sang-ok award. First recipients were actors KIM Hee-ra and CHOI Min-shik, who deferred the award to local supporters of Korea's Screen Quota system. Korean stars also attended this year, with actors PARK Joong-hoon of Chilsu and Mansu and top star LEE Jun-ki of King and the Clown on hand at the opening ceremony to introduce this year's jury. On the feature film jury was veteran actress YOON Jung-hee, star of over 300 films including the KIM Soo-yong classic Mist. During the 10 day festival, KOFIC hosted Korean Film Night, a memorable evening that allowed international guests a chance to try traditional Korean foods. New Korean films presented at the festival included opening film Midnight Ballad for Ghost Theater, the feature debut by JEON Kye-soo. Produced by LJ Films, it is the first musical the Korean film industry has put out in decades, and with its ensemble cast of oddly dressed singing ghosts in a dilapidated theater, its aspires to a cult status similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Also showing were NAM Ki-woong's new feature Never Belongs to Me, director SHIN Sang-ok's posthumous but as yet unreleased final film A Winter Story(2004), and animated movie adaptation of popular vampire sitcom Hello, Francesca called Ani-Francesca, which had its world premiere and was directed by PARK Dae-yeol. Korean films in the horror-suspense category having their world premiere were HD features February 29, by JUNG Jong-hoon, about a young woman working at a highway toll gate where murders occur, and Forbidden Floor, by KWON Il-soon, about an apartment building plagued by strange noises and bloodshed. A third HD feature, D-Dday about the tense atmosphere at an exclusive female cram-school, had its world premiere, while a collection of HD shorts Daesepo Naughty Girl 1 & 2, based on the popular internet cartoon series, featured 9 shorts by Korean directors, and had its premiere, garnering huge laughs and applause. In a surprise twist, PiFan also snagged the world premiere of the highly anticipated Severance by Christopher Smith, which was to have its premiere at Locarno in August. It won the Jury Special Prize award. Among other award winners this year, two Korean short films received prizes. The Citizens Choice award went to Lock-smith by PARK Jae-hong and the 1st Kids Fanta Award, with an all-child jury, went to Tori & Rabi by CHOI Jae-jin. The 10thPiFan drew audiences of about 35 000 by its eighth day, and with two days of additional screenings left, it surpassed last years turnout of 35 000, but stillcomes nowhere near the 2004 total of 80 000 tickets sold. Political interference and lack of preparation still marred this year's event, but with industry support returning and strong leadership under director LEE Jang-ho, the festival is making strides in the right direction. With Japan's Tokyo Fantastic Film Festival on indefinite hiatus, and the smaller scale Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in financial crisis, PiFan has a chance of becoming the leading, and perhaps even the only Fantastic film festival in Asia. Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)
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