“Stay Strange” with South Korea’s BIFAN Film Festival As It Celebrates Its 25th Birthday

My highlight of Korea’s hot, humid summers is attending South Korea’s Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN), which I have done every year that I have lived in Korea since arriving in 2008. As a matter of fact, I got my start with Gruesome Magazine’s Grue-Crew by covering BIFAN for Horror News Radio. This year, Asia’s largest genre-film fest celebrates its 25th birthday, and today it has revealed a six-poster set featuring its 2021 theme of “Stay Strange.” Following is BIFAN’s official press announcement.

The 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN, Festival Director: SHIN Chul) unveiled this year’s official posters on the 27th. The six posters make up the “cake series” that celebrates BIFAN’s 25th birthday, and they reflect this year’s slogan: “Stay Strange.” The mix of cuteness and bizarreness depict a sense of disharmony within harmony. The posters also act as an invitation welcoming everyone to come eat and be merry at the feast that has been prepared by BIFAN for its 25th anniversary.

The “Stay Strange” slogan is an expression of BIFAN’s determination to show keen support for unconventional genre film talents that have turned away from the mainstream. The slogan implies that, although their stories might be unfamiliar and strange to some, if these stories are nurtured, the talents behind them can eventually meet BIFAN and blossom. “Stay Strange” also captures the hope and comfort being offered to filmmakers, audiences, and to everyone else who has struggled as a result of the strange changes that COVID-19 has brought about over the past two years.

In order to encapsulate the sensibility and taste that BIFAN is cultivating, an actual cake was made and photographed, and the six-poster series was designed to capture the process. The goal was to offer a sense of hope to everyone going through trying circumstances via the posters’ bright colors and images. On their own, each poster piques the observer’s curiosity, when seen together, they create a humorous story that will delight audiences. For the fifth time since the 21st BIFAN, PROPAGANDA worked on the design for the official posters. CHARIDA Studio created the cake, and Lee Seung Hee Studio did the photography. A behind-the-scenes video that shows what went behind the making of the posters will soon be uploaded to BIFAN’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/officialPiFan).

Using its experience from 2020 as a basis, the 25th BIFAN will actively use online and offline platforms for the festival. Also, a three-level operation plan that complies with the public health authorities’ social distancing levels has been established. The scale of the offline/online events, as well as viewing formats, will be different, which will allow for the festival to be proactive and flexible in its response to challenges.

“Film festivals, which are theater-based, are struggling because of the pandemic and the rapid progress of online services,” said festival director SHIN Chul. “Although it’s difficult to predict how the film terrain will take shape in the post-Corona era, it’s safe to say that the way in which films are created, distributed, and viewed will be completely different from before.” He went on to add: “BIFAN’s spirit is to look at things with skewed but precise eyes. We are in difficult times without precedent, and the only way to overcome and break through these difficulties is to discover new, creative talents. BIFAN will work to nurture these new, creative talents, as we are in the midst of new changes.”

The 25th BIFAN will be held from July 8-18. For 11 days, the festival will offer both online and offline screenings, as well as audience events.  

For more information, visit http://www.bifan.kr/eng/.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.