Goodbye PIFF 2009


Goodbye PIFF

Another PIFF has come and gone. Here is the final breakdown:



Number of Films


 World Premier


 International Premier


Total amount of Screenings


Accredited Guests (Press excluded)








Asian Film Market






Overseas 370

Busan Haps


Total amount of theater visits


Yep, not bad for little ol' Busan.

I want to thank Jacob Worrel and Chris Tharp for their coverage –next year we want to open it up to more people writing about the festival. As soon as I can figure out how to make the site interactive –right now I am maxing out all my technical knowledge, but I will get it.

Thanks for reading. ~Bmc

Posted 10/17 10:15AM

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My Own Indie Film

It is a story about a guy who gets a flu bug and attempts to rest but finds himself up late at the computer night after night feeding his current addiction to web design. The crowd yells at the screen telling the main character, "Come on man, get some sleep, you will recover faster and make it out for the local film festival!" The man shrugs off the faint voices. Finally, he awakes one morning (today) and feels fully recovered while thinking that pirating might not be so bad after all and decides to hold a film festival in his home with a date to make up for the movies he missed. This movie is rated "R" for reality.

Posted 10/15 7:50AM

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In the words of The Beatles, "I got a feeling, a feeling deep inside oh yeah." Oh, no, it ain't good. Done caught me a bug. My sympathies to the other poor sap out there who has got the same aching body that was given to me. Shooting for a quick recovery, so I can get back out there and get me some more PIFF~

Let's hope this doesn't become a trend like the Swine Flu. As those of you who live here in Korea know all too well. I can see it now: temperature tests given as you enter and exit movie theaters for the next couple months. I can't imagine that sanitizing hand wash tastes good on the popcorn either.

Posted 10/13 7:39AM

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Finally Saw Some Movies

As I wrote in my first entry, I was most looking forward to socializing with the PIFF people gathering from around the world here in Busan and to that end it was putting a cramp in my actually seeing a film at the appropriately named "film" festival. Well, no more.

Yesterday I managed to get in two flicks. The first was a classic 1960 Korean yarn called "Aimless Bullet." It is often cited as the greatest Korean movie of all time.

The setting is Seoul after the Korean War and the movie gives all new meaning to the word dire. It was a great movie, but it was greatly depressing. The story revolves around a family struggling to get by during hard economic times that would have scared Obama from even considering being president.

There are two brothers and a sister in their 20's, each with their own Buddha to bear through these trying times. The oldest brother is going the traditional route working as a desk jockey in an accounting office –not even scratching out enough coin to get his miserable toothache fixed. His slightly younger brother is a bit of a scamp, hanging out with old war buddies reminiscing about how life was easier during the war (ouch) and complaining about the job market when they never actually seem to go looking for a job.

The sister, who is in love with a war hero who won't marry her because he has been crippled by war injuries and, through some foolish reasoning, feels he must endure his suffering alone, ends up selling her kitty to American soldiers. Then there is the bed-ridden mother of the clan who has lost her mind and is constantly repeating the words "We gotta get outta here! We gotta get outta here!" Alas, no one is going anywhere but down.

The sequence of bad events is never ending right up to the movies finale. If you are borderline suicicdal I would suggest avoiding this cheerless, though wonderful film.

My second flick was an Austrian film called "Lourdes."

It is about a group of French pilgrims, with their chaplain and assistants following the rituals of the visit to Lourdes: the grotto, the Eucharistic blessing, confession, processions, bathing in the water, etc. in hope of being cured of their handicaps. The film is extremely understated in all aspects and the soundtrack nearly non existent as the scenes simply carry themselves on their own merit. The central character, Christine, has severe MS and is paralyzed.

I then fell asleep.

When I woke up Christine was walking again and sucking face with a soldier on a mountain top. I fell back asleep again. When I awoke the next time, the movie was ending. Jacob raved about it so, I will take his word for it and suggest you see it. Maybe he will write a review.

After the movie I hooked up with Mikey and his wife Jess and Tharp for "French Night" at Murpii Bar at Novotel in Haeundae. Word was going in that the French embassy was putting it on so we were expecting something similar to the Canadian Embassy party wth free drinks galore and excellent food, but we were mistaken. It was pretty much a typical packed party night at Murpii bar, flashing lights, a world famous DJ and a ten minute wait to get a $10 cocktail. Sei La Vie. Years ago I had a friend who measured how great a club is by how long he had to wait for a cocktail. "Hey, I had to wait 25 minutes for a drink at this club last night! It was awesome!"

At the door we got three free drink tickets so that was cool –but I was on my own tab after that. The ever gracious Ollie invited us to his booth so we sat drinking champagne and enjoying the scene. This was not about movies this was about drinking and dancing –both of which I was too tired to appreciate for more than an hour –or so I told myself when I walked in.

After nearly smacking some obnoxious Charles Bukowski wanna-be at the bar, I staggered out about 2 am, drunk-dialed several family members and friends back stateside during the taxi ride home, ordered McDonalds and fell asleep watching a rerun of West Wing.

Yeah. I am PIFF partied out. Gonna chill all day and catch a couple of flicks tonight. Back to work tomorrow. I have a radio interview Tuesday and recording my own show with Sean O'Malley Wed, so the PIFF posts will be a bit more scant.

Posted 10/11 12:13AM

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I started off the day a little late after starting it early. I got up to post all of the PIFF stuff on the web then went back to bed. After a series of naps and unignorable phone calls I managed to get out the door at 4:00 and headed for Haeundae to meet Jacob for a movie and later Tharp for some party crashing.

I got to the Press center to check on the stacks of BHaps and saw that there were still a few of the thirty copies that Mikey had dropped off earlier that morning and then headed upstairs to meet Jacob for a flick. My plan was to watch one at 6 PM or so and then head over to the Josh Hartnett, Lee Byun-hun"I Come With the Rain" press conference to see if I could get in a few questions for my mag.

Turns out all the flicks were sold out, so I was looking at 3 hours with nothing to do but roam –so I roamed. I headed out front to find the masses gathering way early for the arrival of Harnett and Lee. In Korea it must really suck to be a superstar because 90% of those gathered were middle school or high school girls. So whatever fantasy you might have had about getting laid all the time is immediately dashed when you see your demographic.

  • Two Sajik High School Girls still excited following their Josh sighting

I went back inside and cruised the Shinesge Mall like I was a kid in high school again. I started flirting with one woman in the bookstore until her daughter came up behind me and said, "My mother doesn't speak English that well." Doh!

Later, after grabbing some horrible lasagna with Jacob (who had stayed back in the press room to write a review) I headed back outside to meet Mikey who decided he wanted to do a little star stalking with me. While outside I ran into Tajikstan director, Naosir Saidov who was here promoting his movie, True Noon, billed as Tajikistan’s first film in 18 years to be fully funded and produced in country. I don't know what that means exactly, because the very humble and mild-mannered Saidov told me in his broken English that the film was shot in Santa Barbara. (He may have just been saying he had traveled there–who knows).

  • Tajikistan Director, Nosir Saidov

I still had another hour and a half to kill and after having a smoke with some women in the Japanese press (you can always tell the difference between the Japanese and Korean women because the Japanese women aren't ashamed to smoke in public) I just stood there people watching. Then by chance the great Jim Batcho shows up in front of Shinsege. We hung out for a while and shot the shit until Mikey got there. Jim had a flick to see so Mikey and I went to the press conference together.

We got our Star Trek universal translators, hooked it up to our ears and waited amongst the mass of cameras and reporters for the stars to make their way to the podium. This event was only for the media so when they finally did make their way out there was no screaming, other than the one yelp when one of the cameras lost its front leg and toppled into the back of some print media gathered at the front.

After some truly yawn-worthy opening statements, questions were given to the floor. First up was a member of the Korean media who launched into a 30-second ass-kiss about how wonderful Hartnett, Lee and Japanese co-star Takuyu Kimura were in the movie. As a journalist I was disgusted by the blatant badgering, but hey, perhaps she was making a play at the middle and high school girls rightful place and giving the stars something to feel good about without being jailed.

  • The Gathering Press

To be honest, my palms were sweating, maybe it was the mass of lights. Ever the thinking marketeer, Mikey kept telling me, "Make sure you mention Busan Haps! Don't forget!"

After sitting through several more absolute mush questions from the Korean and Japanese media about how the stars felt when they first met each other and other non-film related, trivialities I tossed some trivialities out there of my own. The moderator pointed and called me, "weigook (foreigner) press," I got the mic and launched into my "I am Bobby McGill with the local English magazine, Busan Haps," spiel, when I got cut off by the moderator. Apparently Kimura hadn't finished answering his question. I apologized and joked that "I was very excited." (Later Mikey would be thrilled that my screw up gave us the chance to get the "Busan Haps" name out there twice).

So, anyway, here is how it finally went down. Forgive the vid quality, our media budget is not yet a reality.


I took some liberties that the non-American English speakers there couldn't and was conversational with him. I could sense the discontent around me and Mikey said the girl from KBS that I side stepped to get called looked a bit ticked. Oh well. Gotta take care of Busan first, it is our festival after all.

After that we immediately left the media-love-fest and went to meet Tharp to crash some parties.

The Canadian Invasion

After the Busan Hap's reporter's previous night's lack of luck getting into any parties I had to school these youngsters on how it was done. We picked up my buddy and fellow southern Cracker, Ryan along the way and headed for the Paradise Hotel for some award ceremony where we hoped for free food, alcohol and revelry –if we could get in.

I assessed my troops and started formulating my invasion plan. Tharp was dressed in a nice suit, Mikey was looking suave in slacks and a long-sleeve and I was of course tickin' in my all black get-up. The problem was Ryan. I love Ryan but the guy cuts his own hair and was looking like a dirty white backpacker. This was gonna be tough.

I lead them in about 10 paces ahead, got my strut on and walked straight past security like I was somebody –which, I suppose, I am in the deepest philosophical sense. There was some apprehension by the two Secret Service-looking Korean gatekeepers but I paid them no mind and just kept going up the carpeted stairs. Then through another set of border guards into the banquet hall. I was in!

The place was nearly black — about 100 tables spread about the room with candles and some guy at the podium announcing winners of some awards or something. It was sedate as sedate can be, and I was a bit dissapointed with my first assault on the palace gates, but was happy when I turned around and saw the entire contingent had made it in behind me! I was like frickin' Hannibal going through the Alps.

I got tapped on the shoulder and turned to see it was Ollie, the general manager of the neighboring Novotel Ambassador Hotel. Ollie is an awesome guy and has hooked me an Mikey up with VIP seats at the Giant's game in the past. He whispered in my ear, "I have someone I want you to meet." Lo and behold it was the GM of the Paradise Hotel, a Korean-Canadian who goes by the English name "Michael." We shook hands and exchanged cards and I smiled. Half of the smile was for the gracious man I just met, the other half was for the fact that I knew no door would be closed to us for the rest of the night with Big Daddy in tow.

Walking side by side with Michael we all left together and headed for the Canadian Film party. The spread was ridiculous. Wine and Beer walking around all over on trays, an amazing selection of food including what tasted like honey-baked ham, the requisite smoked salmon and some incredibly tender sliced rack of lamb.

We hob-knobbed with the Canadian Ambassador to Korea, several Canadian directors and all sorts of other name droppers and proceeded to get really drunk until about 1:30AM. It was lush and so was I. I shook hands with the Ambassador not realizing that there was lamb on my fingertips after just manhandling a lamb chop. The first thing he said was, "You must be American."

Yeah, I was, and so were my boys, and we had a blast.

There was a much anticipated drawing at the end of the party for several Blackberry phones. I ended up winning a bottle of really good Canadian Whiskey, which I talked another party goer into accepting as trade for her $100 bottle of premium Canadian Ice Wine. Now I can see for myself if it is really as good as my Canadian friends go on and on and on about ad-nausea.

Overall, Day Two was great. I am very hungover but ready to get Day Three started in a few hours with some movies and then, of course, more parties. Tonight it is the French party at Novotel with world famous overly-disco-DJ Martin Solveig–gonna see how the French roll compared to the laid back Canadians.

Should be interesting –you know how much the French and the Americans love each other~

Posted 10/10 10:59   Palin Approach

Went to the opening last night of PIFF. I saw the Red Carpet on whatever the Korean equivalent of the Sony Jumbotron is (Kimchi-tron?) as the "ooos and ahhs" emanated from the 4000 people in front of me.

The big Korean stars were there of course along with American Josh Hartnet. The Mayor gave his spiel as the subtitles played below and then K-Pop sensation (sensationalized) Girl's Generation shook all 18 of their legs for the crowd. I counted at least 3 five-second full screen ass shots, so kudos to the PIFF camera crew for focusing on the girls real talent. ((I have come to the conclusion in matters of boy or girl bands that the philosophy is such: If you don't have one talented person, throw as many semi-talented people up there with great looks and decent dance moves and hope for a hit. Thank you America for that lame concept).

After the fireworks (the highlight of the evening) came the movie. "Good Morning Mr. President." Truly awful. Slapstick never was my thing –subtitled slap stick even more so. I should be thankful though: whoever did the subtitles didn't have the wherewithal to realize that white text on a white background is a bad idea. Perhaps they were sparing me some of the bad lines and for that I am truly gracious.

Using this movie to open the festival came off as the Sarah Palin approach to movie premieres. You set the standards so low at the onset that if you can manage to pronounce your name correctly at some point then you are given the thumbs up.

This movie was so thumbs down that I left halfway through and thumbed a taxi to Kyungsung. I had to distribute magazines anyway, so the night wasn't a total loss as I had several beers at several bars along the way.

Got a call from Tharp at about 11 PM saying that he and B- Haps Movie Man, Jacob Worell, were denied entrance to the big after party. What the hell is up with that? As this is my first time in the role of magazine publisher I have found a new aspect to the job: entertainment espionage. I gotta figure out a way to get into these parties –especially for Tharp who I want to apply his brilliant (if not jaded) take on the world.

The sad part is that Sarah Palin would have gotten in. That means that our little Busan Haps hasn't garnered the respect it deserves yet. I mean we are the only English mag in Busan. That has to count for something –or so I would think. As the only English mag, that does make us the best magazine, but by that logic it makes us the worst as well. Shite.

I will go to the Josh Hartnett press conference today and try some new tacts for getting us into the parties tonight. Cross your fingers and your thumbs.

Posted 10/9 7:57AM



When you get out here living abroad, you find yourself from time to time looking for something that reminds you of home. Movies have a magical way of doing that. For a few hours you slip back into a familiar culture, a way of speaking, a joke that you can rarely tell and a reference that only you and your kind can relate to.

And while having PIFF in town provides me with the opportunity again and again to slip away down that imaginary road, the most vivid feelings I get of home while PIFF is here are the numerous after parties during the festival.

It is there, surrounded by people from all over the world and from varied walks of life, other than the average English teacher, that I most feel like I am back in San Francisco. The taste of a good drink and good conversation takes me back –specifically– to the era when I was writing for the San Francisco Examiner.

And it's not simply the abundance of food and alcohol at the parties that takes me back to those days, but rather the feeling that I am part of something bigger and that the people I am there with in revelry are part of that something too.

While I can't wait to see as many movies as I can fit in, it is the parties that I am looking forward to –mostly for the memories they stir within me. And the free food and booze ain't so bad either.

Posted 10/5 10:11 P.M



HQ bar