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Puchon, rival fantasy fest do battle

World Brief

Rival South Korean fantasy fests the Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) and Real Fantastic Film Festival this week announced their lineups and confirmed identical playdates, July 14 to 23.

PiFan, which has Russian actioner “Night Watch” and Carlos Reygadas’ “Battle in Heaven” as twin opening films, looks set to be the larger event.

It will screen 172 films with a competition section and retrospectives dedicated to local helmers Park Chul-soo and Ko Young-nam. However, after a boycott by the Korean Film Producers’ Assn., there are no contemporary Korean features.

Real Fantastic has 64 pictures including two special sections: Marx Attacks, a program of sci-fi pics from East Europe; and Fantastica Koreana, a lineup of seven current Korean films. Real Fantastic opens with a re-scored version of 1920s Russian silent movie “Alelita.”

The intense rivalry emerged in January when PiFan’s programming team was abruptly dumped by the city hall of the Seoul dormitory town.

Mayor Hong Gyon-pyo said the decision was motivated by time pressures on festival chief Kim Hong-joon, who had recently been appointed head of the School of Film, TV and Multimedia at the Korea National University of Arts.

However, many in the industry say that it was a slap-down for Kim, who briefly forgot Hong’s name at the 2004 opening ceremony.

Kim has hastily put together the Real Fantastic Film Festival, temporarily located in downtown Seoul.

Having built PiFan into a credible international event over eight previous frames, Kim has the support of the Korean Film Producers’ Assn.

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