by Kim Su-Yun, Staff Reporter
Korean movie-lovers will be able to enjoy new foreign and domestic movies at an international festival slated for July 16-24 in Puchon, a one-hour drive west of central Seoul.
More than 100 films from about 30 countries will be featured at the 3rd annual Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan '99), which aims to explore the world of fantasy films.
This can be compared to the 69 films shown at the second festival held in December, later than originally scheduled due to the organizer's lack of funds caused by the nationwide economic crisis. The first August PiFan screened 113 films from 27 countries, attracting nearly 1 million moviegoers.
The films to be presented will include innovative entries from various genres such as science fiction, horror, thrillers and erotic films which have been produced using new methods away from the conventional and mainstream Hollywood movies. Most of the films are rarely shown in local theaters.
The 98-minute Sci-Fi thriller ``eXistenZ,'' directed by David Cronenberg of Canada, will open the nine-day festival at the main plaza of Puchon Citizen's Hall, 8 p.m. July 16.
There are five categories for the festival _ two competitive and three non-competitive. The competitive sections are for regular and short films.
In the regular films section, named Puchon Choice, eight films will compete. They are ``The Blair Witch Project,'' ``Frozen'' and ``Progeny'' from the United States, ``Channelling Baby'' from New Zealand, ``Cube'' from Canada, ``Between Your Legs'' from Spain, ``The Sleepwalkers'' from Argentina and ``Siam Sunset'' from Australia.
Some 50 films will compete in the short film section in which the winner will be awarded the cash equivalent of the cost of producing another short film. Included in this section are ``Arthur'' from Belgium, ``Birth/Death of A Painter'' from Hong Kong and ``Chinese Food and Donuts'' from the United States. The number of competitors is nearly double the figure last year.
A five-member jury will select best film and ``jury's choice'' in the regular film competition section or ``Puchon Choice'' The five jurors are director James B. Harris of the United States, Komatsuzawa Yoichi of Japan, Korean-American actor Rick Yune, French actress Delphine Chuillot and renowned Korean actress Kang Su-yon.
The three non-competitive categories are ``World Fantastic Cinema'' comprising some 30 great movies that have not had the chance to open in Korea,``Korean Cinema Showcase'' introducing nine local films and ``New Zealand Fantasy Retrospective'' a special category reflecting the importance of fantasy film-making in New Zealand despite its short 20-year history.
``Citizen's Choice'' will be awarded to the film which got the largest number of votes from visitors and the ``Netizen's Choice'' award will be given to the film which gets the largest number of votes from netizens.
The festival will be staged at three main theaters and two smaller ones in Puchon.
More than 70 foreign directors, actors, producers and other film festival coordinators have been invited at the expense of the Organizing Committee and a large number of people engaged in film-making are expected to visit the festival.
``This year, we will screen five films at an outdoor theater installed in the plaza in front of the City Hall, this will be free of charge in a bid to attract more spectators. Children-oriented films will be screened to increase the number of families who attend,'' said the organizer. The first and second festival made a midnight screening hit with the horror flick ``Kingdom'' and its sequel.
This year's festival has jumped back to the level of the first one two years ago with 1.5 billion won in budget funded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Kyonggi-do, Puchon city, the Korean Film Committee and two other film related organizations as sponsors.
Movie-goers are able to reserve tickets at 5,000 won per show, starting July 1. An all-night screening package and a Cine-Rock Night with an accompanying performance by an underground band are priced at 10,000 won each.
Free buses will run from the Korea Press Center near Seoul City Hall to Puchon at 12:30 p.m. every day during the festival.
Call 02-539-0303 or visit www.ticketlink.co.kr
for ticket reservations. For further information, visit the
official PiFan '99 website, www.pifan.or.kr.