BiFan Opens Folk Horror-Fuelled 27th Edition with Ari Aster's BEAU IS AFRAID

Contributor; Seoul, South Korea (@pierceconran)
BiFan Opens Folk Horror-Fuelled 27th Edition with Ari Aster's BEAU IS AFRAID

After weathering the pandemic and its shifting regulations for the past three editions, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan) returns to full strength this year with its 27th edition, kicking off on June 29 with the local premiere of Ari Aster's Beau Is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Serving as the closing film will be the world premiere of Sana, the new film from Japanese director Takashi Shimizu, the man behind the Ju-on (The Grudge) films. Among the 262 films from 51 countries screening this year, major new genre titles from Screen Anarchy favorites include Brandon Cronenberg's Infinity Pool, Álex de la Iglesias Four's a Crowd and Anurag Kashyap's Kennedy.

The festival returns under the slogan 'Cinema+', a term that captures the broad canvas of today's Korean contents industry. While films remain the main offering at BiFan, this year's festival will also showcase other elements of Korean pop culture that have been fuelling the global craze in K-culture, as well as bolstering the local film and drama industry.

The main Korean Fantastic: Features competitive section will be supplemented by a Cinema + K-Pop sidebar. BiFan is also partnering with the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency (KOMACON) for an inaugural Cinema + K-Webtoon conference and networking event to bridge the two industries.

Complementing BiFan's 'fantastic' reputation will be the Goedam (aka 'Strange Tales') Campus. This event is connected to the 50th anniversary of the Bucheon Goedam Contest, which identifies and publishes fiction from new genre writers. The Campus will seek to develop some of these stories into features and series in the future.

Speaking of birthdays, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Bucheon City, which will be marked by several special events and a parade during the festival. The festival's core four programmers also came together to curate a special section, each picking a film originally released in 1973. These including Paul Morrissey's Flesh for Frankenstein, George Lucas' American Graffiti and Robert Clouse's Enter the Dragon and Robin Hardy's classic folk horror The Wicker Man, the newly restored final cut of which will have its Asian premiere at BiFan.

In fact, the 27th BiFan will present a cornucopia of folk horror classics, with a whole program and masterclass dedicated to the subgenre. 'Folk Horror: Lands of Cruelty, Beliefs of Terror' will comprise 11 films, ranging from the Swedish classic Häxan to Kier-La Janisse's acclaimed documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. Janisse will be in town for the folk horror masterclass, which will also include Screen Anarchy's very own James Marsh as a panelist.

This year's broad program has been broken down into several new sections, which should help spectators hone in on the titles most likely to suit their tastes. These include 'Adrenaline Ride' (horror and action), 'Metal Noir' (sci-fi and thrillers), 'Merry-Go-Round' (comedy, fantasy and drama) and 'Odd Family' (family films). There's also a 'Mad MaxX' program for returning genre masters and the 'Strange Homage' retrospective section, while will this year include films by Johnnie To, David Cronenberg and Satoshi Kon, among others.

Among other special programs this year will be a focus and masterclass on legendary Korean actor Choi Min-shik, who was immortalised around the world 20 years ago in Park Chan-wook's Oldboy. 12 films will be screened, from 1980s shorts all the way to last year's In Our Prime.

BiFan will also hold a special screening of Lee Won-suk's riotous new film Killing Romance, a cult classic-in-the-making starring Extreme Job's Lee Ha-nee and Parasite's Lee Sun-kyun, with cast and crew in attendance.

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