Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - For horror, fantasy, mystery and animated film fans, Bucheon is the place to be this month.
The annual Puchon (Bucheon) International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan), which is considered the largest genre film fest in Asia, is opening this Thursday ? featuring a total of 230 films from 47 countries.
This year's edition opens with Korean horror film "Horror Stories," a joint project by six local directors: Jeong Beom-sik, Im Dae-woong, Hong Ji-young, Kim Gok, Kim Seo and popular commercial-flick director Min Gyoo-dong. Min, who this year made a box-office smash with his romantic comedy "All about My Wife," was in charge of creating the bridge scenes between the different horror-themed episodes in the omnibus.
An unusual high-school flick based on a 1970s Japanese manga "For Love's Sake," directed by Takashi Miike, widely considered as the "Japanese equivalent of Tim Burton," will close the festival.
"Puchon Choice," PiFan's official competition section, will introduce 24 features and shorts this year. Notable submissions in the section include Indonesian director Upi Avianto's psychological thriller "Belenggu," which tells the story of a young man who is haunted by images of a gruesome murderer in a rabbit costume.
PiFan's "Vision Express" section this year offers a number of cutting-edge, original genre films from all over the world. Must-sees include Brazilian directors Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra's feature "Hard Labor," which delves deep into the social issues of the contemporary Brazil ? such as class conflict, migrant workers and unemployment ? through the story of a middle-aged housewife whose newly opened grocery store's wall starts to crumble and stink.
Another notable film of the section is director Rebecca Thomas' fantasy film "Electrik Children," in which its 15-year-old heroine Rachel gets pregnant simply by listening to forbidden rock music. Meanwhile, director Tanya Wexler's history-based period fantasy "Hysteria" offers an interesting account on the invention of the vibrator in the Victorian era, and what the medical treatment of hysteria in the 19th century had to do with it.
For horror and animated movie fans, Patrice Leconte's animated film "The Suicide Shop," Taiwanese horror "Zombie 108" and Japanese director Junji Ito's animated horror "Gyo" are worth checking out.
This year, PiFan is hosting a special section titled "Korean Retrospective- Wild Laugh: A Certain Wave of 1970s Korean Comedy." It features six Korean comedies released in the 1970s, which were influenced by the oppressive political climate, rapid economic growth, as well as cultural shifts of the era. The films in the section include director Shim Wu-seob's "A Man and a Gisaeng," Pyeon Keo-young's "Girls from Eight Provinces," Lee Hyung-pyo's "Cheeky Man," and Ahn Il-nam's "Outlaw on a Donkey."
Aside from the film screenings, PiFan this year offers a lot of cultural events and programs.
Moviegoers who are also into reading graphic, horror, SF or fantasy novels should check out this year's PiFan 2012 Literary Genre Book Fair. Participants will be given an opportunity to talk to some of the most esteemed genre-fiction authors, who write for prominent multi-genre literary magazine, the "Mirror."
For those who would like to experience a one-of-a-kind horror-themed party, check out PiFan's "PiFan Holic's Night" on July 22 at Sky Garden in Jung-dong, Bucheon.
The festival will also offer camping opportunities for those who don't want to miss out on the midnight outdoor screenings. Visitors can bring their own tents and camping equipment, or rent them at the festival site in Bucheon.
PiFan runs from July 19 to 29 at various venues in Bucheon. For tickets and this year's full line-up, visit www.pifan.com.