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BIFAN to proceed offline amid toughened virus curbs


The 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival announced Friday it will continue offline screening after concerns of a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections prompted organizers to consider canceling the event earlier.

The announcement came after the government decided to raise virus curbs to the toughest level in Seoul and its neighboring Gyeonggi Province and Incheon from Monday for two weeks.

The online-offline hybrid festival kicked off Thursday and will run through July 18 in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province. A total of 257 films from 47 countries will be showcased at two local theaters and on the online streaming platform Wavve during this year’s festival.

“Our decision to proceed with offline screenings comes after careful thinking. And more importantly, last year’s film festival did not witness a confirmed case and we will ensure to make the 25th event a safe one,” an official said.

Organizers of the film festival had initially planned to cancel the annual event as the government announced it would raise antivirus measures to tamp down further outbreaks.

The official said it will take heed of government guidelines, adding that they would strengthen disinfection processes throughout the two weeks and put audience safety at the forefront.

Movie screenings previously scheduled to run after the curfew will be presented to moviegoers before 10 p.m. Under the new distancing measures, theaters are required to close at 10 p.m.

Only 15,647 seats at two local theaters, which is about 37 percent of the entire seating capacity, will be available for visitors.

Cautious movie buffs can enter theaters after using a COVID-19 self-test kit, the organizer said in its recommendations. Patrons will have to apply hand sanitizer, go through temperature checks and scan a QR code for contact tracing purposes.

Meanwhile, other in-person events, including meetings with filmmakers, will be held virtually or canceled under the worst-case scenario, according to the organizer.

By Park Jun-hee (