Saturday, October 21, 2006

PIFF Wrap-up

So, what to say about this year's PIFF? A little over 160,000 people turned out for 245 films. That number is a pretty big drop from last year (when attendance topped 190,000), but there were fewer movies screened over one less day this year (nine days, instead of the usual 10). In fact, the per-screen average was about the same as last year.

Also, it looks like organizers pretty much have gotten the kinks out of the system now. Ticket sales were largely glitch-free and smooth. Perhaps too smooth -- thanks to online ticketing, seats for the most in-demand films were snatched up in seconds. You need to be a World of Warcraft champion to snag tickets to the hottest movies (of course, with a Press badge, life is strikingly different). But PIFF has always been a popular event, and there is no way around those sorts of scarcity problems, especially in the festival's opening days, when things are busiest. Going to later screenings, in the last four or five days of the festival, is much calmer. Usually.

The most annoying thing about the festival, imodo, is the festival organizers' continuing insistance on petty, moronic rules -- in particular, the rule that you must have a ticket to get in the theater, even when there are empty seats. Really guys, the goal at a film festival is for people to see movies, not to support ticket manufacturers. When the film is ready to start, if there are empty seats and people who want to see it, let them in (in some sort of order... say buyers, festival pass holders, and finally press).

(Luckily, the old trick still works of getting a movie ticket to a nearby, less popular movie, then telling the volunteer at the theater door that you already entered and just went to the bathroom.)

And there are plenty of other annoying hang-ups. Like their organizers' insistance that all interviews must must go through the festival. Why? Sorry, but if I have a connection with someone I need to talk to, I will have my interview whenever we think it best.

Anyhow, none of these problems are life and death. And I am just talking about watching movies; there are certainly more pressing issues facing the world. But it would be nice if the PIFF organizers put a little more thought into how the run things from the audience's point of view. It's not like PIFF is some big for-profit corporation. Korea desperately needs to build its non-mainstream movie audiences (hell, non-mainstream everything), and PIFF should set up its rules with that in mind.

Also, the weather this year was pretty much perfect -- 25 degress by day, 13 at night, mostly sunny and no rain. Kudos to... uh, god, I guess.

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