Friday, November 20, 2009

Pusan West in Orange County

Pusan has been building up quite a name for itself in the film industry, and that clout is about to be exported. From Friday through Sunday, Chapman University in central Orange County be hosting the first ever Pusan West Film Festival, billed as "the western incarnation of the famed Pusan International Film Festival," the most recent of which had nearly 200,000 attendees.

The Pusan West Festival will feature selections from the PIFF in an effort to expose American audiences to South Korea’s vibrant film culture, one of Asia’s largest. Many esteemed Korean moviemakers will be appearing, including Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), who will be accepting the inaugural Icon Award at the opening ceremony on November 20.

“Chapman Pusan West takes this global outreach initiative to another level and provides a new platform for Korean filmmakers and stars looking to break into the American market,” says Dodge College Dean Bob Basset. But while the medium might be film, the roots of the festival reach much deeper than pure entertainment—it is an attempt to bring two cultures together. He goes on to say that, “in our increasingly interdependent global society, the language of film offers one of the most direct ways in which peoples of different cultures can come to know one another, both in their differences and similarities.”
Directors Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon, and Lee Doo-yong are expected to be there to discuss their work, so it should be a real treat. This is what the Los Angeles Times notes about the festival:
The three-day event will showcase contemporary and classic feature films as well as documentaries selected from the Pusan International Film Festival.
Disappointingly, the Orange County Register apparently isn't carrying any news of the event. OC Weekly, known for its progressive politics and its events guide, has an announcement with directions, and a handy-dandy post that lists all the movies that will be playing. OC Weekly also mentions something about the Chapman University faculty who put this together:
Among the Dodge College faculty is professor Nam Lee, an expert in Korean film. He joined Korean film critic and Cinematheque Film Forum director Lim Jae-cheol in selecting the films being shown this weekend in Orange.

"We are seeing a noticeable surge in popularity and a groundswell of support for Korean cinema in the U.S.," says Lee. "Referred to as Hallyu (Korean Wave), in Asian communities, we feel compelled to support this movement so that our students and the public don't miss out on the unique voices of this important national cinema."
If I were in OC right now, I'd definitely go to check out some films I missed at PIFF and to show my support. Orange County, with a large Korean-American community and a population of three million people that includes many people with a growing interest and curiosity of Korean culture, seems a good place for such an event. OC is accessible to millions more in nearby San Diego County, Los Angeles County, and the Inland Empire. And with a unique media program Chapman University — Orange County's main private university — is a good venue.

(HT to Edward, who I can't link to because he sent this to me in an email.)

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