MUNCHING WITH THE MAYOR

As all festival directors know there is a political element in coordinating a film festival that must be appeased. So it was that representatives of the foreign press were invited to have lunch with Bucheon’s Mayor, Hong Gun-pyo. The Hollywood Reporter were represented by Patrick Frater, Maggie Lee and Ivy Lam. Screen International was repped by Liz Shackleton and their smoothly bi-lingual Korean correspondent Jean Noh and Variety was represented by the film festival circuit’s elder statesman Derek Elley and yours truly. Rather than having feedback from visitors filtered through the festival administration, the Mayor wanted to hear our thoughts on the festival directly. Bucheon’s Mayors have been involved with the festival before he was elected and as discussions ensued it was evident that his commitment to the festival’s prosperity may have been, if anything, overly protective in the past, but one could not doubt his fidelity to not only PiFan but other Bucheon events like their anime and manga festivals which not only emphasise culture in the satellite city, but are aiming for potential economic benefits (film production, manga publishing etc) that may flow in from around the Asian region.

While Mr Hong was not likely to change his grand plan just to suit foreigners, it was clear that he listened – through PiFan’s Publicity coordinator Michelle Kwon who interpreted – to each of his visitors, none of us ever very reluctant to say what we think. How much he took on board will be revealed in the years to come I suspect, but regardless it was quite an honour to be invited.

3D OR NOT 3D: IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION

NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films) hosted this morning a Forum on the emerging 3D market in Asian cinemas. In a panel moderated by Screen International’s Liz Shackleton, Kodomo Films, Indonesia based San Fu Maltha, Joe Ikeda From Asmik Ace In Japan and Kim Hee-young from Korean digital effects company Macrograph offered three different perspectives on this burgeoning market. With internet and DVD piracy burning a hole in film attendance figures, the industry is looking to create a profitable experience that cannot be pirated or duplicated in the home environment.

In regards to that, it sounds like a lot of expensive outlay for what is essentially a stop gap measure (the technology to do 3D in the home is not that far away from consumers now), but while both Maltha and Kim were forthcoming about the technical details of the technology, it was the project announced by Joe Ikeda – a 3D movie set in an amusement park by Shimizu Takashi (The Grudge) called The Shock Labyrinth that really got my blood racing. The first Japanese live action film in 3D, the film sounds like a perfectly targeted concept.

As Maltha explained via an unanticipated classical reference to Rembrandt’s paintings, 2D already has depth, so 3D must provide more.

Until the story experience raises above mere gimmickry, I think the future of 2D cinema is safe. Of course there is no reason why the two formats can’t co-exist. Remember IMAX is a niche audience even if it is a profitable niche. All panel members were clear that certain genre (horror, nature documentaries, science fiction) films are more likely to succeed and successfully draw on the format than standard dramas.

HOT ON THEIR TRAILER

A millstone around each festival’s neck is their branding trailer. Something that is seen before each film, but seen more and more frequently depending on how dedicated your audience is. A good trailer has to be able to remain fresh for the duration of a festival and repeated viewings. The pinnacle would have to be a toss up between Cannes’ ascending stairway to the stars or Berlin’s Bear emerging from its sphere of fireworks. However some are less durable and through repetition can become downright annoying. Toronto 1992 went with the slogan ‘Everybody’s a critic’ with quotes from audiences members like ‘I really dug the plot’ – Debbie Eglington. Only presenting about three such jokes, the Toronto audience were substituting professions by about day 4 and each joke become more tiresome as the day wore on. The PiFan trailer is a 2 parter. One features a girl presenting a red scarf on the occasion of the birthday of a man who wears a hessian sack for mask. It has a kind of odd tenderness. The second trailer is like a second instalment. I won’t spoil the details, but for something that is a promotional tool, it has both genuine emotion and uniquely pays homage to the gory The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a way that is family friendly. It is directed by Kim Jin-won.

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