Festival offers fresh look at Asia through film

Author: Arts and Letters


Showcasing the creativity of contemporary Asian filmmaking, the University of Notre Dame’s annual Asian Film Festival will bring four contemporary films to the Browning Cinema of the University’s DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts Friday and Saturday (Feb. 27 and 28).

Admission is $6 for the general public, $5 for Notre Dame faculty and staff, $4 for seniors and $3 for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance at http://performingarts.nd.edu or by calling the center box office at 574-631-2800.

“The festival is exciting because it provides fresh perspectives on the Asian and Asian-American experiences,” said Jonathan Noble, the advisor for Asia initiatives in Notre Dame’s Office of the Provost. The slate of films “aims to explore the multiplicity of Asian and Asian-American identities, an area of increasing student interest,” he added.

“Often we associate film with a certain country, but the majority of these cinematic productions ask us to think about the blending of boundaries between nations, peoples, and cultures,” Noble said.

The films selected for the festival, encompassing documentary, drama and comedy, are:

  • “First Person Plural,” directed by Deann Borshay (2000), Feb. 27, 6:30p.m., traces the director’s journey to unite her biological (Korean) and adoptive (American) families. A student panel on the Korean adoptee experience will follow the film.
  • “Last Life in the Universe,” directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (2003), Feb. 27, 9p.m., brings together a mysterious, suicidal Japanese man living in Bangkok and a Thai woman who is his opposite in every way. A poetic, entertaining tale in three languages, this film is a Japanese-Thai co-production.
  • “West 32nd,” directed by Michael Kang (2007), Feb. 28, 6:30p.m., is a drama set in Manhattan’s Korean underworld. When young lawyer John Kim takes on a pro-bono murder case, he finds himself searching for clues in a tangled web of Korean organized crime. A Q&A session with director Kang and screenwriter Edmund Lee will follow the film.
  • “Hula Girls,” directed by Sang-il Lee (Japan, 2006), Feb. 28, 9:30p.m., tells the true story of a dying Japanese mining town that hopes to revive its economy by creating a Hawaiian village to attract tourists. A sophisticated dancer arrives from Tokyo to teach hula dancing to the coal miners’ daughters in this cross-cultural comedy. The winner of 10 Japanese Academy Awards, the film will be introduced by a hula dance performance by the Hawaii Club of Notre Dame.

Enriching the festival are panels and performances paired with individual films and an academic panel. Students who participate in festival offerings, including the academic panel, can register beforehand to receive academic credit. More information is available on the Web at http://kellogg.nd.edu/events .

The 2009 Asian Film Festival is presented by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, with the support of the College of Arts and Letters and more than a dozen departments, offices and organizations at Notre Dame.

Contact: Elizabeth Rankin, 574-631-9184 or erankin3@nd.edu ; or Therese Hanlon, events coordinator, Kellogg Institute, 574-631-4150 or Therese.Hanlon@nd.edu

Originally published by Elizabeth Rankin at newsinfo.nd.edu on February 23, 2009.