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Women directors will feature strongly in the main competition section of the Bucheon International Film Festival, Asia’s largest genre movie event. Women also take growing screen time.

The event (July 12-22) opens with Korean animation, “The Underdog,” directed by Oh Sung-yoon, who previously made South Korea’s highest-grossing animated feature “Leafie, a Hen into the Wild.” Indian musical drama “Secret Superstar” by Advait Chandan will close the festival, which packs in 290 films.

“One of the most salient features of this edition is women filmmakers’ leaps and bounds,” said festival programmer Ellen Kim. She was speaking at a launch event Thursday in Seoul.

The festival’s Bucheon Choice competition with 12 films, includes female directed films: Coralie Fargeat’s actioner “Revenge”; Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s revenge drama “A Vigilante”; Issa Lopez’s hyper-realistic Mexican drama “Tigers Are Not Afraid”; and Yu Eun-jeong’s mystery horror “Ghost Walk” which revolves around a woman who realizes that she is in fact a ghost.

A separate competition for Korean features showcases nine titles including genre specialist Oh In-chun’s “The DMZ,” and “The Deep” by Cho Sung-kyu.

The festival dedicates retrospectives to Korean actor Jung Woo-sung, and three horror masters, Wes Craven, George Romero and Tope Hooper. A special program “Women Who Leaped through Time: The Representation of Women in sci fi Films” is headlined by “Alien” and “Mad Max: Fury Road – Black and Chrome.”

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The festival’s industry promotion program B.I.G. puts emphasis on virtual reality, and includes 40 VR works. “The global interest in the VR technology has increased explosively,” said deputy festival director Kim Jong-won.