Don't It Make My Red Carpet Orange? Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon and Other Korean Film Heavyweights Come to Chapman University

No one will think twice about South Korean filmmakers, dignitaries and hangers-on traipsing across a red carpet Friday evening for the opening of the Chapman Pusan West film festival in Orange.

But have this be a South Vietnamese film festival with any hint of red on the carpet, posters or frames of film and cries, shouts, kicks, punches and overall bad mojo will fly from Little Saigon wheezers convinced it's some kind of Commie brainwashing hatched in the North.

Weird how that works.  

In an unusual–or, as the hired LA PR agency puts it,
“groundbreaking”–partnership, South Korea's Pusan International Film
Festival, which is Asia's largest, teams with Chapman University to present
South Korean films and filmmakers Friday through Sunday in the private institution's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

The events are designed
to showcase Korean culture through food, music, and dNcor. Film scholars will lead audience Q&A's with
several of Korea's most celebrated film directors, who will also introduce their films. The filmmakers (and films) include: Park Chan-wook (Thirst director's cut); Kim Jee-woon (A Bittersweet Life director's cut); Lee Doo-yong (Last Witness); Park Jin-sung (Evil Spirit: VIY); Kim Dong-won (Drifting Away); and Kim Young-nam (Don't Look Back).

Park Chan-wook, perhaps best known to American audiences for what has become known as his “Vengeance Trilogy” (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance ) will also receive the inaugural Pusan West Icon Award. It will be bestowed to him at Friday's opening gala, but he'll also stick around for a master class at Chapman on Saturday.

The complete Chapman Pusan West lineup:

Thirst (Park Chan-wook, 2009, PIFF 2009 Korean Cinema Today-Panorama Section)

A Bittersweet Life (Kim Jee-woon, 120min, PIFF 2005 Korean Cinema Today-Panorama Section)

Mother (Bong Joon-ho, 2009, 129 min., PIFF 2009 Korean Cinema Today-Panorama Section)

The Chaser (Na Hong-jin, 2008, 125 min. PIFF 2008 Korean Cinema Today-Panorama Section)

The Old Partner (Lee Chung-ryoul, 2008, 75 min. PIFF 2008 Wide Angle-Documentary Competition Section, Mecenat Award)

Evil Spirit: VIY (Park Jin-sung, 2008, 110 min, HD, PIFF 2008 Korean Cinema Today-Vision Section)

Drifting Away (Kim Dong-won, 2009, 95 min, HD, PIFF 2009 Korean Cinema Today-Vision Section)

Like a Virgin (Lee Hey-jun, Lee Haeyoung, 2006, 116 min. 2006 PIFF Korean Cinema Today-Panorama section, Critics Award for first-time director)

Viva, Love (Oh Jeom-kyun, 2008)

Don't Look Back (Kim Young-nam, 2006, 126 min, 2004 PIFF project for new directors 2006 Locarno International Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize and Netpac Award)

Also included are two Lee Doo-yong “Retrospective” screenings: First Son, which was shown at the first PIFF in 1996 under “Korean Cinema Retrospective” section, and Last Witness, the 1980 film that was recently rediscovered and released on DVD.

Dodge College Dean Bob Bassett says Chapman Pusan West is the fruit of close ties the university has forged with Asian filmmakers, especially the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

“Each year students from Chapman travel to Korea to shoot films with students from the Seoul Institute of the Arts who then travel to the U.S. to help their American counterparts do the same,” he explained. “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 and seek true co-production opportunities with Hollywood.”

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.”

To the red carpet . . .

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