Fest tries to regain fantastic rep

Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival skedded for July 13 - 22

Following a year plagued by controversy and boycotts, South Korea’s Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival, aka PiFan, will bid to reclaim its title as one of Asia’s most important genre fests.

Skedded to run from July 13-22 in Bucheon, a suburb of Seoul, PiFan 2006 will bow under new festival director Lee Jang-ho, a vet filmmaker, and a new programming team. A record 250 feature and short films will be presented to mark the fest’s 10th edition.

Retrospectives and special sections will be devoted to recently deceased Japanese director Ishii Teruo, Italian horror cinema, Jacques Tati, Fritz Lang’s silent films, Audrey Hepburn, and restored director’s cuts of four classic Korean films from the 1970s and 1980s.

In addition to its main Puchon Choice competition section, the festival will team with Japan’s Yubari Intl. Fantastic Film Festival to present a children’s competition section, to be judged by young jurors from the two countries.

Fest is trying to regain the support of the Korean public and press after a widespread boycott in 2005 to protest meddling in the festival by Bucheon mayor Hong Geon-pyo. Hong is up for re-election May 31.

Last year, former festival director Kim Hong-joon and PiFan’s former programming team held a one-time rival event called RealFanta during the same dates as PiFan. No such actions are being planned for this year.