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BUCHEON, South Korea — Stereo has been noted as a rare genre film in German cinema, and its filmmakers hope that the opener of the 18th Puchon (Bucheon) International Film Festival (PiFan) will add to the diversity in South Korean cinemas as well.
The action-packed mystery thriller made its Asian premiere Thursday at the region’s largest genre film festival.
“Films like this almost don’t exist in Germany. Genre thrillers don’t exist,” director Maximilian Erlenwein told Korean fans in a Q&A session following a screening Friday. “The actors immediately loved it, as scripts like this come only every seven years. German cinema is dominated by comedies, and it was something very new for them.”
Stereo features German star Jurgen Vogel as a man who must confront the ghosts of his past, and the film’s strong thriller mystery elements give way to noir action sequences — though not without a pinch of comedy here and there.
“I was quite concerned [whether] it would all work out. There are a lot of different genre elements,” said the director. “At first I had more humor, and I had to cut it down because I was losing the tension. To be honest, I didn’t really know if it would work, with all these different elements. I just did it.”
PiFan’s executive programmer Pyeon Jang-wan said he was immediately drawn to the film when it premiered at the Berlinale earlier this year.
“It received rave reviews at the European Film Market, and our festival picked it up quite quickly,” he said. The film will also hit local theaters via Sejong Communications around September this year.
The director expressed excitement about the film’s distribution in Korea, as he has long been a fan of Asian genre cinema and local auteurs such as Park Chan-wook.
Producer Alexander Bickenbach, meanwhile, hoped that the film would reach out to more Korean fans. The Korean film market has lately been dominated by homespun blockbusters, as well as a handful of Hollywood imports, leaving little room for art house, independent and non-Hollywood foreign titles. In 2013, just 2.2 percent of all the films released in Korean cinemas accounted for over half of total sales.
“We spoke to people about the distribution of foreign-language films here, and I hear it’s not easy. It’s up to you to tell your friends and family to watch Stereo. If not, foreign films won’t be shown in Korea, and there will be a monoculture in Korea [like in Germany] with only comedies,” said Bickenbach.
PiFan continues through July 27, showing 210 films from 47 countries, including special showcases on Godzilla and Tinto Brasso.
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