Above photo: Scene from The Girl Princes, part of the “Remembering Queer Korea” retrospective at the San Diego Asian Film Festival.
A retrospective on queer images in Korean cinema, the world premiere of the pilot episode of Asian American family sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, and an expansive selection of films showcasing Korean American and Korean talent are just a few of the highlights of this year’s 15th San Diego Asian Film Festival, running from Nov. 6-15. The pan-Asian film festival, presented by Pacific Arts Movement at venues throughout San Diego, will be premiering more than 140 films, spanning various genres, from 21 countries.
The 10-day event kicks off on Nov. 6 with the opening night screening of the Martin Scorsese-produced gangster drama, Revenge of the Green Dragons, starring Korean American actor Justin Chon (Twilight). Directed by Andrew Lau Wai-Keung and Andrew Loo, the film follows the story of two brothers pulled into the world of organized crime in New York’s Chinatown in the 1980s. Kevin Wu (aka Kevjumba of YouTube fame) and Ray Liotta also star in the movie. Actors Chon and Leon Wu, along with director Loo, are scheduled to be present at the festival screening at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15.
On Nov. 8, the pilot episode of Fresh Off the Boat will make its world premiere at the USD Shiley Theatre. The comedy, which will make its primetime TV debut on ABC early next year, is based on the book of the same name by celebrity chef and TV personality Eddie Huang. Starring Korean American comedian-actor Randall Park (Veep), Constance Wu, Ian Chen and Hudson Yang, the show is the first Asian American sitcom on network TV since All-American Girl, which debuted 20 years ago. The festival screening will also feature a Q&A with Fresh Off the Boat Executive Producers Nahnatchka Kahn and Melvin Mar.
From November 13-15, the festival will present the landmark “Remembering Queer Korea,” a special program that will incorporate film, art and scholarship in looking back at the history of queer images in Korean cinema. The retrospective is billed as the first of its kind outside of South Korea, and in addition to the screening of such relevant films as Broken Branches and The Girl Princes, will include an art exhibition and academic conference. The program is being organized in partnership with the University of California, San Diego’s program in Transnational Korean Studies. More information can be found here, with screening times for the films presented here.
Among this year’s offerings from modern-day South Korean cinema are two thrillers and a romantic comedy, with synopses, show times and venues listed below:
Fri., Nov 7, at 9:10 p.m. and Sun., Nov 9, at 7:30 p.m. | UltraStar Mission Valley
A cop tries to clean up his tracks after a hit-and-run accident, which leads him to devise a devilish plan that involves MacGyvering some toys and sneaking into some cramped corners. The kicker of course is that whenever cops are involved, there’s a lot more than blood to clean up. Directed by Kim Seong-hun.
Sun.,Nov. 9, at 8:30 p.m. | UltraStar Mission Valley
At her cougary best, Uhm Jung-hwa (Dancing Queen) plays Shin-uye, an ambitious TV producer screwed over by her ex-lover in this romantic comedy. Giving middle-aged women new reasons to do yoga, she rebounds with a hot young thang in the editing bay. Meanwhile, eyes bugging from wiry sexual energy, Moon So-ri (A Good Lawyer’s Wife) plays some comedic Hungry Hungry Hippo with her sexually exhausted husband. On the other hand, Jo Min-soo (Pieta), a mother desperate to empty her nest of its unwed daughter, is virtually chaste by comparison—except for her highway-side trysts with a carpenter boyfriend (Lee Kyoung-young), who’d rather build awnings than build for the long-term.
Tues., Nov. 11, at 6:10 p.m. and Thurs., Nov 13, at 5:55 p.m. | UltraStar Mission Valley
The film’s unnerving rabbit is the Jijon Clan (Supreme Gangsters), a band of poor rural young men and South Korea’s first serial murderers, who carried out a savagely warped form of class warfare tinged with ancestral fervor. Their goal: to kill the rich, until they themselves became millionaires. Non-Fiction Diary sets the story of their public capture and sentencing within a nation gut-punched by the collapses of the Seongsu Bridge (1994) and Sampoong department store (1995), one of the deadliest building failures in history.
For a complete listing of all festival programs and films, click here. Tickets to the festival screenings are available online for all shows. Tickets can also be purchased on-site at specific screenings one hour before show time. For all screenings at Ultrastar, tickets can be purchased at the Ultrastar Mission Valley box office (Member $9, General $12). Student/Military/Senior and Group discounts are available at the door.
Pacific Arts Movement is one of the largest media arts organizations in North America that focuses on pan-Asian cinema. For more information about Pacific Arts Movement, visit www.pac-arts.org.