NYC Happenings: Korean American Film Fest Hits Anthology June 5th

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
In it's sixth year, the Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) offers quite the unique program of shorts and features, and this year they may have found the perfect venue to match their curious content: The Anthology Film Archives -- one of the East Coast's last bastions of true film preservation and honest-to-goodness 35mm and 16mm projection of alternative and underground works. Not that KAFFNY will be projecting rare celluloid, but still, if anyone's ever entered the double green doors of Anthology's East Village complex, it means there usually in for something special. Yeah, that's what I'm getting at! At any rate, KAFFNY makes its home at AFA from June 5th - 10th. Read on to hear about this year's offerings!


KOREAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK (KAFFNY): JUNE 5-10 at Anthology Film Archives

 

Now in its sixth year, the annual Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) is the first and only film festival in New York City showcasing the diversity of Korean American and Korean diasporic perspectives in film.  Since its first annual festival in 2007, KAFFNY has continued to broaden its focus on emerging filmmakers to include international films by Korean and as well as non-Korean filmmakers.

 

This year, the program reflects the strong offerings in new Korean American filmmaking as well as cross-cultural Asian independent cinema. "We're very proud to have so many premiere screenings of homegrown New York and American talent, and feel our filmmakers are now truly coming-of-age along with our festival," says founder Dave Kim.

 

Hosted at Anthology Film Archives this year, KAFFNY presents New York audiences with a challenging and innovative mix of narrative features and documentaries with a strong focus on auteur-driven stories, and complex character studies, exploring such themes as loss and dislocation through journeys of discovery. KAFFNY also marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots with a special free program of films, to also screen online for the duration of the festival.

 

Venue: Anthology Film Archives: 32 Second Avenue New York, NY 10003

 

Please visit www.kaffny.com for program updates and final schedule

 

PROGRAM:

 

KAFFNY's opening night presentation is the International Premiere of SHOULD'VE KISSED, the debut feature of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts alumnus Jinoh Park who sets a new standard for independent auteurist Korean American filmmaking. Park directs and stars in this offbeat story of a lonely soul adrift in Manhattan's dive-bar scene with another forlorn actor, having hallucinatory conversations with Robert De Niro on a movie poster of "Taxi Driver" by another NYU alumnus, Martin Scorsese.

 

Highlights include the world premiere of NYU alumns Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino's ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN WRESTLING in which skeptical New York filmmakers venture to rural Georgia to document the culture of a pro-wrestling Christian ministry, and return having learned some surprising and moving ways Americans use faith to guide them through dire personal and family circumstance.

 

The Japan Society co-presents MAGIC AND LOSS, an impressive international Asian co-production (Japan/Korea/Malaysia/Hong Kong/France/USA/China) starring breakthrough Zainichi Korean indie actress/rising producer Kiki Sugino (Hospitalité), Korean indie writer/director/actor Yang-Ik June (Breathless), award-winning Korean actress Kim Kkobbi (Breathless) and directed by Malaysian-Chinese filmmaker Lim Kah-Wai

 

The program includes a special interactive presentation of Jacob Krupnick's GIRL WALK // ALL DAY, produced by Youngna Park, a cutting-edge, feature-length dance music video set to the iconic modern party album All Day by innovative mashup DJ Girl Talk, exploring the border between documentary and reality, pitting remix culture and creative spirit versus the modern digital copyright scheme and unflappable New Yorkers.

 

In remembrance of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and building on last year's "LA Riots: 19 Years Later" panel with veteran directors Dai Sil Kim-Gibson and Charles Burnett, KAFFNY presents a special program marking the 20th anniversary, to also screen online for free during the festival week. The riots or "429" ("Sa-I-gu") a Korean nomenclature denominated for the date of the riots, is the single most devastating event for the Korean American community, and is widely considered a re-awakening of Korean American identity and leadership. KAFFNY will present films by new voices from the Korean American community, the second generation, including those whose parents' businesses were burned in the riots. The program includes Alex Ko's POKDONG, and Kathy Choi, Dae Hoon Kim and Hosik Kim's LAR20.

 

FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS:

 

International Premiere/Opening Night: SHOULD'VE KISSED (2010): Auteur debut film from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts alumnus Jinoh Park with great performances and deft long takes. Two aspiring actors and lonely souls navigate New York City, one, played by Park himself, a dive-bar singer who converses with Robert De Niro on a movie poster of "Taxi Driver" by another NYU alumn, Martin Scorsese. Directed by Jinoh Park. (Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30pm & Saturday, June 9 at 10:00pm, Anthology Film Archives)

 

World Premiere: ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN WRESTLING (2011): Two filmmakers fly to rural Georgia to capture a traveling pro-wrestling Christian ministry with the intention of coming back to New York with a documentary about the ridiculousness of American religious expression. What they find instead are three men within the ministry using their faith as a way to guide them through the most dire of circumstances, a faith that clashes not only with the conservative religious views of the Bible Belt, but also with the people who have chosen to reject Christianity as a direct result of its overbearing presence in the South. Directed by Jae Ho Chang and Tara Autovino. (Saturday, June 9 at 5:00pm & Sunday, June 10 at 7:30pm, Anthology Film Archives)


US Premiere: MAGIC AND LOSS (2010): Co-presented by Japan Society. A Korean/Japanese/Malaysian/Chinese collaboration with Korean Japanese indie actress/producer Kiki Sugino (L'Hospitalite), Yang-Ik June and Kim KKhobi from Korean indie juggernaut Breathless. Malaysian director Lim Kah Wai's distinctively captures the unfolding relationships between the 3 actors' in this fresh new Asian mystery.  Two young women, Kiki and Kkobbi, whose purpose and background are unknown, and nationalities are unclear, win a lottery ticket for a free vacation at an island resort called Mui Wo in Hong Kong.  In a completely isolated and unknown place, they start to experience an extraordinary adventure.  Directed by Lim Kah Wai. (Thursday, June 7 at 7:30pm & Saturday, June 9 at 2:30pm, Anthology Film Archives)

New York Festival Interactive Premiere: GIRL WALK // ALL DAY (2012):  A cutting-edge, feature-length dance music video set to Girl Talk's standard-setting All Day mashup album exploring the border between documentary and reality, re-pushing the envelope of remix culture and challenging Wim Wender's Pina with true indie and youthful spirit. An urban exploration that follows three dancers across New York City, turning the sidewalks, parks and architecture into an evolving stage as they spread their joy of movement. Directed by Jacob Krupnick. (Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30pm, Venue To Be Announced).

 

PERHAPS, SOMEWHERE (2009): Auteur debut film from Arts Institute of Chicago alumn demonstrates impressive mise-en-scene sensibility. Two lonely souls navigate through their isolated past and present in uncharacteristic landscapes of the Midwest, searching for a sense of home. In meeting, they forge a brief and close bond, learning to understand themselves and one another, wondering where they will go next. Directed by Brian Oh. (Saturday, June 9 at 7:30pm, Anthology Film Archives)

 

LOS ANGELES RIOTS 20TH ANNIVERSARY PROGRAM:

 

POKDONG (2006): For over a decade, Korean filmmaker, ALEX KO has lived in a family silenced by the devastating loss of their store during the 1992 L.A. Riots. In POK DONG, the Ko family shares their dramatic story for the first time, confronting painful memories as a means of finally moving on. Directed by Alex Ko. (Screening date, time and venue to be announced)

 

LAR20 (2012): An examination of the racial state of mind of America, now 20 years after the LA riots of 1992, focusing primarily on young culture makers who were voiceless 20 years ago. Directed by Kathy Choi, Dae Hoon Kim and Hosik Kim.(Screening date, time and venue to be announced)

 

More films to be announced.

 

SHORTS 1 (COMPETITION):
(Thursday, June 7 at 10:00pm & Sunday, June 10 at 2:30pm, Anthology Film Archives)

* = New York-based filmmakers

 

Dol (First Birthday) by Andrew Ahn 

Reunion by Choi Jai Young

*Home by Seimi Kim

The Recorder Exam by Bora Kim

Ghost by Dachi Ma

City by Kim Ye-Young

*I am John Wayne by Christina Choe

Blue by Stephen Kang

 

SHORTS 2:
(Friday, June 8 at 10:00pm & Sunday, June 10 at 5:00pm, Anthology Film Archives)

* = New York-based filmmakers

 

* Toast by Henry Jean

* Saeing Il (Birthday) by Jennifer Suhr

* The Problem of Gravity by Trevor Zhou

Mountain of June by Do-Yeon Kim

* Tree by Pyeung Hun Baik

* The Kook by Greg Mitnick 

* Like Sugar on the Tip of My LipS by Minji Kang

* Fractured by Terry Sasaki

* Silence Your Waiting by Jake Jeon

* Now You See Me by Zooey Park

Korean School Rejects by Peter Yun

* Play Things by Mike Cook



Around the Internet:
  • Jon Pais

    I believe a world premiere is a film that is being shown for the first time anywhere, while an international premiere is the first time a movie is screened outside of the country it was made in... so it still isn't clear to me... it appears that the screening at JIFF was both the film's world premiere and international premiere, while the KAFFNY is neither. Anyhow, I'm sure there must be a lot of good movies being shown at this festival, Should've Kissed just isn't one of them.

  • Jon Pais

    Jinoh Park's "Should've Kissed" is not making its world premiere at KAFFNY - it was already screened at the 11th Jeonju International Film Festival back in April/May 2010. I can't understand why this is the opening film for the festival, as it is long, brooding, repetitive and pointless. On the other hand, I don't recall the film being about two aspiring actors in Manhattan's dive-bar scene, so maybe I'm thinking about another movie. Or perhaps director Park edited the film since it screened at JIFF? If I'm mistaken, please correct me...

  • The "world premiere" bit must be a typo on the part of whomever wrote the press release, as it states "international premiere" a few paragraphs north, which makes more sense if it played at JIFF and not since.

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