The 26th edition of BIFAN brought audiences back to watch films live with an exciting line up of genre films from horror, fantasy, thriller, and everything in between, adhering to the festival’s slogan “Stay Strange”. The festival opened with Alex Garland’s dark, disturbing film Men, while the closing film was the timely New Normal by Jung Bum-shik.
Unique to the festival is the VR/XR (virtual reality/extended reality) exhibit dubbed Beyond Reality, giving visitors a glimpse of the immersive future of video arts.
Ten films from the Merry - Go - Round section were in the running for the NETPAC award. The jury found many of the entries delightfully entertaining. Among the top films that emerged during the deliberation were Ring Wandering (Kaneko Masakazu, Japan) which seamlessly merged the worlds of past and present, imaginary, and realistic; Popran (Ueda Shinichiro, Japan), a ridiculous and out-of-this world comedy; and Jinju’s Pearl (Kim Lokkyoung, Korea) about a group of artists trying to save their old café in their town.
Ultimately, Office Royale (Seki Kazuaki, Japan) was chosen as the NETPAC award-winning film. The film blows up simple office lady factions into epic proportions – turning them into anime-worthy heroes and villains, resulting in exciting battles that had the audience laughing and cheering in their seats.
It is an impressive first feature film by director Seki Kazuaki who has previously made music videos, TV commercials, and dramas. Among all the worthy entries, the jury believes that it is Office Royale displays the excellence in Asian cinema that NETPAC aims to promote, and more so, it best embodies the entertaining, youthful, vibrant spirit of the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. Ida Anita del Mundo (Philippines) – Chairperson of the NETPAC Jury