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Asian Film Fest to premiere at ND

Laura McCrystal | Friday, February 27, 2009

In order to promote cultural awareness, this weekend’s Asian Film Festival at Notre Dame will show four Asian films and will include panel discussions and a student performance Friday and Saturday evening in the Browning Cinema, student organizer Laura Wilczek said.

“Each culture has its own way of storytelling, and film is just one such way of cultural expression,” Wilczek said. “Thus, the film festival provides students with a chance to learn more about Asian cultures and how they are similar to American culture.”

Wilczek is a member of the Asian Film Festival Organizing Committee, which is comprised of students and faculty and works with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Senior Brandon Frost also helped plan the festival and choose the films.

“This year’s festival is a unique combination of films that no other Asian Film Festivals at other universities have provided,” Frost said. “It includes themes such as co-production, the Asian-American experience and cross-cultural appreciation.”

One of the films, “First Person Plural,” is about an adopted Korean woman’s search for her birth family, Wilczek said.

Wilczek said the film has personal importance for her because she is a Korean adoptee. She and senior Kevin Prawdzik will speak on a student panel discussion following the film.

“I think it brings up a lot of pertinent identity issues that surround a Korean adoptee and therefore provides excellent insight for those who aren’t aware of such identity issues,” she said about the film.

Frost said “Hula Girls,” another film premiering at the festival, holds personal significance for Frost, a native of Hawaii. He said he has been hula dancing since he was five years old. Before the film, a student from the Hawaii Club will perform a modern hula dance, Frost said.

“When I was studying in Japan, everyone mentioned the film ‘Hula Girls’ when I told them I was from Hawaii,” he said. “So we truly are showcasing some of the more famous films in Asia today.”

The film “West 32nd,” about Korean crime in Manhattan, will feature a question and answer session after the film with director Michael Kang and screenwriter Edmund Lee, according to the festival’s Web site.

The fourth film, “Last Life in the Universe,” is a Japanese-Thai co-production in three different languages, the Web site said.

The festival will also feature academic panels by professors Kathleen Bergquist, an adoption researcher at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Stephanie DeBoer, a film and theater professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Frost said the Browning Cinema is typically full for each film, and he hopes festival attendees will gain an appreciation for Asian film.

“Asian and Asian-American films are quite different than the normal Hollywood films,” he said. “It really gives us a deeper insight into the world of film but more importantly, it acts as a medium which we use to stimulate thinking about some of the people and cultures that make up our country and the world.”