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The 26th BIFAN Declared 'Beyond Pandemic' Film Festival Instead of 'Post Pandemic'

Jul 12, 2022
  • Writerby Hellen Park
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Reborn as a ‘Hybrid Film Festival’ that Emphasizes the Festive Vibe of Offline Events and Adds Online Convenience



On July 7, 2022, the 26th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) started the ‘largest genre film festival in Korea’ by inviting many guests to the opening ceremony at Bucheon City Hall Square in 3 years after the COVID-19 Pandemic. Especially, BIFAN was selected as the ‘Fantastic 7’ at the Festival de Cannes in May, firmly establishing its status as the largest genre film festival in Asia. 


BIFAN has put forward its slogan of ‘Stay Strange’ this year. It emphasizes the characteristics of the genre film festival that BIFAN allows all cinematic imaginations to break down the boundaries. At the opening ceremony, Chung Jiyoung, Chairperson of the Organizing Committee, said, "The film festival shrunk considerably over the past 2 years due to COVID-19. This time, the full-face-to-face film festival began, allowing us to meet many audiences in person. We will make it an evolving film festival beyond the Pandemic." While enjoying the film festival fully for the first time in 3 years, the goal is to hold the ‘Beyond Pandemic’ film festival, not just the ‘Post Pandemic’ one. The keyword of the festival this year is the ‘Hybrid Film Festival.’



The festival will also operate an online screening system that will allow more audiences to watch BIFAN's movies beyond the limits of the venue while preserving the festive nature of various offline sites so that more audiences and locals can enjoy the film festival on the spot. There was also a 'Hybrid' declaration of 'the definition of films'. The goal is to redefine various types of storytelling videos as 'movies'. The festival also strengthened its industrial program B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering), educational program ‘Fantasy Film School,’ and ‘Goedam Campus,’ a program that discovers and fosters creators of Strange Tales. What is the ‘Hybrid Film Festival’ in the era of the ‘Beyond Pandemic’ envisioned by BIFAN?


Squid Game is a Movie!” BIFAN’s Reformative Declaration



BIFAN established the ‘Series Film Award’ for the first time this year and selected the Netflix series Squid Game (directed by Hwang Donghyuk) as the winner.


"Why don't we call Squid Game a movie?" Shin Chul, the Executive Chairperson of the festival, said, "In an era when time and space constraints have disappeared, various types of videos such as OTT series, YouTube, and TikTok should be redefined as movies."


Chairman Shin Chul said, "The combination of culture and technology is creating various forms of visual storytelling. Defining a video as a film that runs for over 2 hours has been one of the ways to maximize profitability from an industry perspective. It is time for Korean films and K-content to present new standards in the world in line with the changes of the times." He also said, “The Harry Potter series and the Star Wars series are movies, but why is Squid Game not a movie? BIFAN's enactment of the ‘Series Film Award’ is a special suggestion for the new definition of films beyond creating a new award section.”


Winning BIFAN’s Series Movie Award, CEO Kim Jiyeon (Siren Pictures), the producer of Squid Game, began her acceptance speech, saying, "From today, Squid Game is a movie. I thought about which Korean film festival would go best with Squid Game. And it has been BIFAN all along. I'm so grateful that I received such great recognition and the award."


The establishment of BIFAN's ‘Series Film Award’ makes us think again about how big and significant the topographic changes in the film and video industries after the COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition, it means that it has thrown the topic of the definition of 'What is a movie?', not just the expansion of the film category.


Building a 'Movie Ecosystem' beyond a Film Festival



Another characteristic of the 26th BIFAN is to ‘build a movie ecosystem where the film festival and the film industry meet.’ BIFAN also runs an industrial program (B.I.G), XR exhibitions (Beyond Reality), and ‘Goedam Campus,’ as well as a forum such as ‘After Pandemic: Future of Cinema.’


BIFAN's industrial program B.I.G (BIFAN Industry Gathering) consists of the NAFF Project Market, Fantasy Film School, Made in Asia, etc. First of all, the scale of support has been expanded to revitalize the NAFF Project Market. The award is 397 million won, an increase of 52 million won from last year. In addition, B.I.G. will operate ‘Bucheon Fantastic Castle,’ a virtual space created using the metaverse Gathertown following last year. The guests of B.I.G, NAFF participants, and students at the Fantasy Film School can socialize and network in Bucheon Fantastic Castle.


Futuristic content and the development of human resources are also key tasks of BIFAN. The festival has introduced VR (Virtual Reality) and XR (Extended Reality) content and technology status since 2016. Its purpose is to introduce the development of current technology to the film industry and to allow film festival participants to experience content and the possibility of new technologies. Through this, it is expected that changes in movies and theaters will take place.


It also aims to build a ‘Strange Tales’ ecosystem through ‘Goedam Campus.’ It is a project launched in partnership with Bucheon City, a UNESCO creative city, in 2020, and launched Season 2 of ‘Creativity Support Center’ in 2022 beyond the stage of collecting ghost stories and supporting short stories. An official of Goedam Campus said, "The level of goedam (strange stores) projects participating in the project is getting higher. In the future, more and more films will be planned and developed with various video content forms," showing his expectations.



The 26th BIFAN, which aims to be the ‘Beyond Film Festival’ and the ‘Hybrid Film Festival,’ will run until July 17. This year, 268 films from 49 countries will be screened, and you can enjoy BIFAN's invited films at 13 movie theaters and wavve, an online platform. 

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