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Korean American Film Festival Unveils Fifth Anniversary Lineup

Korean American Film Festival Unveils Fifth Anniversary Lineup

The Korean American Film Festival (KAFFNY) has released the lineup for its fifth anniversary showcase of feature-length and short films by Korean, Korean-American and international filmmakers.

KAFFNY will open with a live re-score of Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky’s drama “Madame Freedom,” featuring violinist Sean Lee and cellist Okkyung Lee.

The festival will also present a six-film retrospective honoring documentarian Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, as well as a discussion centering around the LA Riots following the screening of “Sa-i-gu” and “Wet Sand: Voices LA.” The talk will be lead by Kim-Gibson’s longtime collaborator, Charles Burnett.

Additional highlights of the more than 14 feature films and 25 short films include several international and U.S. premieres, as well as a double feature of Pak Chong Song’s football film “Centre Forward” and Mads Bruegger’s journalism documentary “Red Chapel” at the Chelsea Clearview Cinema.

The festival takes place from March 17-20 in New York.

Below is the full festival release, along with synopses of select films and the Kim-Gibson retrospective.


Now in its fifth year, the annual Korean American Film Festival (KAFFNY) is the only New York based independent film festival showcasing Korean American and Korean diasporic perspectives in film. Since 2006, KAFFNY has broadened its programming to include international films and videos by Korean and as well as non-Korean filmmakers.

For its fifth anniversary, KAFFNY presents New York audiences with a challenging and innovative program ranging from groundbreaking early Korean cinema to the most current emerging Korean American films.

This year KAFFNY honors the veteran documentary filmmaker Dai-Sil Kim-Gibson with a retrospective of six pioneering films that powerfully capture the complexities of the Korean diaspora. Special guest and long-time collaborator Charles Burnett will join Dai Sil Kim Gibson for a discussion about the LA Riots, 19 years later, after the screening of her documentaries SA-I-GU and WET SAND: VOICES OF LA.

KAFFNY’s opening night presentation features a live re-score of the seminal Korean Golden age drama MADAME FREEDOM (1956) by Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky with virtuoso violinist Sean Lee and acclaimed cellist Okkyung Lee. KAFFNY will screen over 14 feature films and more than 25 short films by emerging and established Korean American, Korean and international directors.


International Premiere THE BOAT (Chelsea Clearview): Korean Japanese co-production directed by Young Nam Kim, tells the unlikely story of a cross-cultural friendship that develops between a couple of smugglers, Hyung Gu (Ha Jung Woo) and his contact on the other side, a young Japanese man called Toru (Tsumabuki Satoshi).

NYC Premiere THE HOUSE OF SUH (Chelsea Clearview): Award-winning documentary by Iris Kim recounts the chilling story of the House of Suh, an immigrant family whose pursuit of happiness quickly became riddled with misfortune, culminating on September 25, 1993, when Andrew shot and killed his older sister’s fiancé of eight years, Robert O’Dubaine, at Catherine’s bidding.

NYC Nontheatrical Gallery Premiere PSYCHOHYDROGRAPHY (Chelsea Clearview, White Box, Big Screen Project): An analysis of the flow of water from mountain to aqueduct, city to sea. Shot at and around the Eastern Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, Los Angeles Aqueduct, Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean. HD video constructed entirely from single frame photography, directed by Peter Bo Rappmund

US Premiere THE WOMAN, THE ORPHAN, AND THE TIGER (Chelsea Clearview, White Box, Big Screen Project): The third film in a trilogy of narrative experimental films by Jane Jin Kaisen dealing with international adoption and the ideological, geopolitical, historical, and psychological effects of that process. This film looks at the legacy of international adoption from a feminist perspective and within a transgenerational and transnational scope. Directed by Jane Jin Kaisen and Guston Sondig-Kung.


CENTRE FORWARD (Chelsea Clearview) – North Korea’s first football film originally made in 1978, remastered by Koryo Tours in 2010. This 75 minute film is well known in North Korea but has never been released internationally. Fascinating both as an example of North Korean filmmaking and a strong story of overcoming athletic adversity, CENTRE FORWARD is at once inspirational, dramatic, amusing, and educational. Even better, by showing the sport’s importance in societies very different from our own, this illustrates the truly universal appeal of the ‘beautiful game’. Directed by Pak Chong Song.

RED CHAPEL (Chelsea Clearview) – One of last year’s standout films at Sundance, where the film had its US premiere. RED CHAPEL is a feature-length documentary about a journalist without scruples, a self-proclaimed spastic and a comedian who travel to North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange visit to challenge the totalitarian regime. Directed by Mads Bruegger.


Born in northern Korea when it was under Japanese colonial rule, Dai Sil Kim-Gibson came to the United States in 1962 to pursue graduate studies. She received her Ph.D. in religion from Boston University, and taught at Mount Holyoke College, which was followed by her career as a federal and state government employee: senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities and director of the media program of the New York State Council on the Arts. She resigned from the New York State Council on the Arts to pursue a film career in 1988, going on to produce an array of award-winning films.

Sa-I-Gu (3/4″ video, 36 minutes), or “April 29,” about the 1992 Los Angeles crisis from the perspectives of Korean woman shopkeepers, was praised by the Washington Post as “a passionate point of view piece.” A Forgotten People: The Sakhalin Koreans (16 mm, 59 minutes), her film about the forced Korean laborers on Sakhalin island, victims of World War II and the Cold War, was called “a bracing reminder of the human victims in the global chess game played by superpowers” by the Los Angeles Times. Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women, a powerful documentary about Korean women forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese Imperial Military during World War II was called “a wrenching and formally inventive film,” by the Village Voice. Wet Sand: Voices from LA (2004) explores the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest and has been shown at numerous festivals in the United States and abroad, including the 8th Pusan International Film Festival in Korea and the 12th Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. Her most recent film, MOTHERLAND (Cuba Korea USA), had a sold out world premiere at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival in October, 2006. It is currently distributed by Women Make Movies in New York City. In addition, she produced and wrote America Becoming, a feature documentary, and Olivia’s Story, a 14-minute drama, directed by Charles Burnett, was cablecast on Sundance Channel in 2001.

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