Recently released horror film “The Medium” won the top prize at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan), which wrapped in South Korea on Sunday. The event, which ran July 8-18, 2021 was the festival’s second year as a hybrid, with both in-person and online components.
Gyeonggi Province, where the festival is held raised its disease status to Level 4 on the fifth day of the eleven-day festival. But festival organizers said that they were able to work through the mass of disease-prevention restrictions and regulations and achieve the result that they had aimed for.
“BiFan could not avoid having visitors who turned out to be positive for COVID-19. However, thanks to thorough prevention and follow-up measures, no transmission of the virus at any of the festival venues has been reported as of July 20,” organizers said.
Festival staff, including volunteers, were subject to daily COVID testing. All gatherings, including the opening and closing ceremonies, were limited to 100 guests.
The opening ceremony was also live-streamed. It included a tribute to Lee Choonyun, the producer of the “Whispering Corridors” horror franchise, who died recently. It was followed by the world premiere of Taiwanese director Giddens Ko’s “Till We Meet Again.”
The festival managed to put on 94 feature films (as well as 114 shorts and 49 multimedia works) at venues including Bucheon City Hall, Fantastic Cube, CGV Sopoong, and multimedia space Bucheon Bunker B39. Its Beyond Reality program included an exhibition space at Incheon International Airport. And for the second year, BiFan teamed up with the Wavve streaming platform to show 61 features and 93 shorts online.
The festival reported admissions of 35,235, including 11,218 on-site admissions and 20,595 views online.
The festival’s accompanying BIFAN Industry Gathering and its project market took place exclusively online. They hosted 40 projects and organized 655 meetings with executives from 146 companies.
Master classes led by Na Hong-jin (“The Chaser”), Kim Dong-hyun, head of Korean film investments at Merry Christmas Inc., and screenwriter Kim Eunhee (“Kingdom”) were held for the students at the Scary Tales Planning and Development Camp.
“The Medium” was produced by Korea’s Na and directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun. Its sales agent Finecut recently achieved a string of international sales on the title, while the film earned $5.05 million over its first five days of commercial release from Wednesday to Sunday.
2021 Bucheon Choice Winners
Best of Bucheon
“The Medium,” dir. Banjong Pisanthanakun (Korea-Thailand)
Best Director Choice
“The Feast,” dir. Lee Haven Jones (U.K.)
“Treat Or Trick,” dir. Hsu Fuhsiang (Taiwan)
“NIMBY – Not In My Backyard,” dir. Teemu Nikki (Finland)
NAFF 2021 winners
“Peaches,” dir. Jenny Suen (HK-Taiwan-U.S.-France-Germay-Czech)
“Hungry Ghost Diner,” dir. We Jun Cho (Malaysia)
Discovery of Asia Award
“The Land of Healing,” dir. Hoang Le (Vietnam)
Discovery of Korea Award
“ESP,” dir. Jung Jae-hoon (Korea).