This July, amidst a bevy of anticipated new releases, Cinema Asian America also shines a spotlight on Korean American films and offers a showcase of recent films which capture the stories – and talents – of this community, from classic films starring Sandra Oh and Margaret Cho to award-winning, personal documentaries.
Korean American actors and directors have long been an integral part of American filmmaking from independent feature to Hollywood blockbusters, and most recently serialized television. With actors such as John Cho (“Harold and Kumar”), Grace Park (“Battlestar Galactica”, “Hawaii Five-0“), Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”) and Steve Yeun (“Walking Dead”) working in the same realms as independently-minded directors such as Michael Kang (“The Motel”), Gina Kim (“Never Forever”) and Grace Lee (“American Zombie”, “The Grace Lee Project”), the moment is exciting, and the concentration of talent points to a many more exciting things to come.
Capturing this zeitgeist is a collection of nine films which give an idiosyncratic, but broad overview of recent Korean American filmmaking, from critically-praised PBS documentaries, to commercial buddy/coming of age films, to small, independent features. The surprise teen-hit “21 & Over” leads the way, with a break-out performance by Justin Chon as a newly-minted 21 year-old whose birthday party is more than he bargained for. Margaret Cho and Sandra Oh appear in two early, gems “Bam Bam & Celeste” and “Last Night”, while a series of documentaries give personal histories to expand this scope. Deann Borshay Liem’s “First Person Plural” and “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee” explore her experience as an Korean American adoptee, while Tom Coffman’s “Arirang” offers a historical look at the development of the Korean American community.
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In our new releases, we look to the intersection of Hollywood and Korean with Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook’s (“Old Boy”) English-language, the domestic suspense-drama “Stoker,” starring Nicole Kidman. Also featured is Sion Sono’s powerful, acclaimed drama “The Land of Hope” which explores the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and the Bollywood comedy “Rangeelay”.
-“21 & Over,” Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
-“The Land of Hope,” Sion Sono, Japan
July Cinema Asian America Preview
-“Rangeelay,” Navaniat Singh, India
-“Stoker,” Park Chan Wook Korea
-“Tai Chi Hero,” Stephen Fung, Hong Kong
Korean American Films
-“A Brand New Life,” Ounie Lecompte
-Arirang, Tom Coffman
-“Bam Bam & Celeste,” Lorene Machado
-“First Person Plural,” Deann Borshay Liem
-“The House of Suh,” Iris Shim
-“In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee,” Deann Borshay Liem
-“Last Night,” Don McKellar
-“Treeless Mountain,” So Yong Kim