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BIFAN screens XR films at Incheon Airport

An audience member watches an XR film at the “Beyond Reality” hall at Incheon Airport. (BIFAN)
An audience member watches an XR film at the “Beyond Reality” hall at Incheon Airport. (BIFAN)

The 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival is screening extended reality (XR) content through its program “Beyond Reality” at Incheon Airport.

The program kicked off on July 1 as part of the 25th BIFAN and will continue until Sunday.

XR is an umbrella term that is used to indicate all different kinds of real-and-virtual combined environments, encompassing augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality.

“XR content are works that are difficult to describe in words, so I hope that people can come and experience their value, fun, and potential,” the program’s curator Jay Kim said during an opening ceremony held on July 1.

The festival organizer explained that BIFAN was the first international film festival held in Korea to introduce a program featuring XR content in 2016.

BIFAN has been holding its XR program at the airport in Incheon since last year.

The organizer explained that Incheon Airport was selected because it fits the program‘s concept, which is traveling time and space through XR technology. Airports are also less likely to shut down due to the COVID-19 spread, as it has less foot traffic, the festival organizer said.

More than 80 pieces of XR content, including 39 films, are being screened through this year’s program.

Five films -- “Bonfire,” “Crow: The Legend,” “Namoo,” “Baba Yaga” and “Paper Birds” -- created by US-based animation studio Baobab Studios are being screened, the program organizer said.

Korean XR films such as “Tearless” and “Red Eyes” are also being introduced through the program.

“Tearless,” directed by Gina Kim, is a 360-degree 3D immersive virtual reality project that depicts the story of a woman who worked in a camp town near a US military base in the 1970s.

“Red Eyes,” directed by Lee Seung-moo, features a fictional story of a factory that is full of Red Eyes, which are mutants that were created through exposure to chemicals.

A special exhibition called XR3 is also being held as part of the “Beyond Reality” program jointly with the Cannes Film Festival and NewImages Festival, an international festival of digital creation and virtual worlds.

The exhibition allows audiences to access a special XR platform “Museum of Other Realities,” though which they can enjoy XR content as well as participate in networking events.

This exhibition started on July 6 and will end on Saturday when the Cannes Film Festival closes.

Interested parties must make online reservations in advance. The organizer originally planned to accept up to 30 audience members in the hall but decided to limit it to 24 after the government implemented toughened social distancing guidelines in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province from Monday due to the fourth wave of COVID-19.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

Meanwhile, BIFAN on Monday also announced that it will move its short film award ceremony and closing event online instead. The festival organizer also added that it will continue offline screenings while strictly following the new COVID-19 guidelines.

Movie screenings previously scheduled to run after 10 p.m. have been rescheduled. Under the new social distancing measures, theaters are required to close at 10 p.m.

By Song Seung-hyun (