Anthology Chiller 'Horror Stories' Opens Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

"Horror Stories"

Despite a recent typhoon, 3,000 people turn out for the launch of the annual celebration of genre movies.

SEOUL — Horror Stories, an omnibus film made up of four episodes by five Korean filmmakers, was a fitting start of the 16th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) in a country where its people beat the heat by watching scary movies in the summer. On Thursday, nearly 3,000 festival visitors, guests and celebrities – mostly local — filled the stadium in the city of Puchon where the festival’s opening took place after a typhoon had hit the country, and citizens were expecting more rain throughout the evening.

“PiFan also nicknamed ‘a festival in rain’ because it always takes place during a monsoon season,” said Man-soo Kim, the Chairman of PiFan Organizing Committee and a mayor of Puchon, who declared the official opening of the eleven day event. “But it’s a unique festival full of creativity.”

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Armed with programmers and guests that have a taste for rare cult films, the festival, which began in 1997, continues to offer an eclectic mix of fantasy and horror B movies heavy on sex and blood.

This year, the festival features 231 shorts and features from 47 countries. As a special program — The Legend of SF Animation: Space Battleship Yamato — will present five Japanese animations from 1970s and 80s, including Space Battleship Yamato (1977) and Space Battleship Yamato the Final Battle (1983). The story of Yamato sets out on a space journey to acquire a device that can heal the earth, which has been ravaged by alien radiation.

As a tribute to Korean cinema, PiFan presents a special section of Korean films by Myung Films, which produced a number of unconventional films in the late 90s and early 2000 from leading genre filmmakers like Kim Ji-woon’s (The Quiet Family), Kim Ki-duk (The Isle) and Park Chan-wook (Joint Security Area JSA).   

“Myung Films was not trying to fit into the trend of the era,” said festival programmer Alice Yoo. “But rather they focused more on delivering the distinctive voice of the creators. The festival wanted to share Myung’s films which stand as a new way of making films.” 

This year’s PiFan also features a series of Argentinean films; a special tribute to Ken Russell, classic animations by Czech artists and a series of Korean comedies and political satire from 1970s.

The festival also offers Fantastic Film School (FFS), an intensive hands-on training session for genre film professionals. This year, 24 participants have been chosen from 7 Asian countries to participate in classes on trans-media storytelling, genre screenwriting, scene analysis, horror filmmaking and international co-productions with film experts from around the world.

As the festival’s highlight, Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) starts on Sunday. After highlighting films from Taiwan (2010) and Japan (2011), this year’s NAFF features selections of Indonesian genre films. Indonesia Spotlight project will also see entrants vie for cash awards worth $34,000 and three post-production support awards at the closing of NAFF.