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Korean Films Are Focus of Seventh Annual Asian Film Festival Hosted by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College

Compelling documentaries about the Korean Peninsula are the focus of the Seventh Annual Asian Film Series, hosted by the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College. The four film series begins Monday, March 20, and continues through Thursday, March 23. All screenings will be held in Room 101 of the Hahn Building (420 N. Harvard Ave., Claremont) and will start at 4:15 p.m. For more information, contact: (909) 607-8065.

Focused on the politics on the Korean peninsula, the films seek to shed light on complicated issues on political, social and cultural fronts and present two radically different personal stories of two filmmakers who arguably are the leading documentary directors on the subject of Korea.

March 20: The Game of Their Lives (2002, Daniel Gordon, director)

To the astonishment of everyone, including themselves, the North Korean soccer team caused one of the biggest upsets in soccer history when they defeated some of the greatest teams in the game to make it to the final round of the 1966 World Cup. It has taken almost four decades to track down the seven surviving team members and piece together the events that led up to the soccer shock that stopped the world. North Korea held the secrets of its champions until this marvelous documentary probed deep enough. Combining footage from the deciding matches plus unprecedented access to Pyongyang, the original team and World Cup archives, The documentary is alive with nail-biting suspense. The story of a totalitarian regime meets top-level sport in the international arena—a genuine thriller.

March 21: A State of Mind (2004, Daniel Gordon, director)

A State of Mind follows two North Korean schoolgirls and their families for the nine months leading up to the Mass Games—the biggest and most elaborate human performance on earth— and in the process takes you inside the secret world of North Korea and the hearts and minds of three generations of North Koreans.

March 22: The Six Day Fight in Myong Dong Cathedral (1997, Kim Dongwon, director)

On the night of June 10, 1987, hundreds of student and citizen protestors fleeing the police took refuge in Myong Dong Cathedral and began a sit-in protest. This film is a record of the event which sparked the famous June 1987 pro-democracy struggle in Korea. Film footage and eye-witness accounts reveal the development of the protest, the hopes and the disagreements of the protesters, and the political background of the event. In particular, the film focuses on the background to the sudden dispersal of this very symbolic Myong Dong protest, which captured the attention of people throughout the world.

March 23: Repatriation (2003, Kim Dongwon, director)
In the spring of 1992, filmmaker Kim Dong-won became acquainted with two long-term "unconverted" political prisoners. Sent to South Korea as spies, they were arrested and spent 30 years in prison, serving out their sentences without renouncing their Communist beliefs. Drawn to their stories and their personalities, Dong-won filmed them for more than a decade. By the end of the 1990s, relations between North and South Korea had significantly improved, and even the most hardened unconverted cases were released. How did these men survive the dehumanizing conversion process of systematic torture for more than 40 years? What awaited them in the outside world? What was their final destiny?

Director Daniel Gordon will attend both of his screenings. He is currently working on his third documentary, Crossing the Line, which will tell the story of the four U.S. soldiers who defected to North Korea in the 1960s. Through this story of the real-life “Manchurian Candidates,” more of North Korea will be shown than ever before. Now considered one of the leading directors of documentaries about Korea, before his first film, Gordon knew little of Korean peninsula politics beyond that there was a North and South Korea.

Kim Dong Won has been Korea’s leading documentary and independent filmmaker since the early 90s. Kim began making documentary films after working as a feature film assistant director in the 1980s and then founded the documentary film collective P.U.R.N. Production in 1991. He has since produced and directed approximately 30 documentaries. Many of his works have involved people forced out of cities by redevelopment and other factors, the pro-democracy movement, and the schism between North and South Korea.

The Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College is dedicated to expanding and enhancing comity and shared knowledge among the nations and cultures that face on the Pacific Ocean. A valued study, media production and research center for the distinguished, PBI also offers books, films and lecture programs to a general as well as academic audience. Pomona College has been a leader in Asian Studies among American college and universities since the turn of the past century.