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Korean Film Festival: "Man on High Heels"

In person: Jang Jin, director Watch the trailer. Director Jang Jin (Murder, Take One; Guns and Talks) has made a career of cleverly subverting genre movie tropes, and Man on High Heels is no exception. He blends explosive action scenes with sly humor in this send-up of the Korean gangster movie genre. Cha Seung-won plays a macho homicide detective so tough he can defeat a roomful of gangsters with his bare hands and emerge without a scratch. But he has one secret: He’s a woman trapped in a man’s body and is preparing to get a longed-for sex change operation when a ruthless gang comes seeking revenge. (Dir.: Jang Jin, Korea, 2014, 125 min. DCP, Korean with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Friday, May 29, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "We Are Brothers"

In person: Jang Jin, director. Stay after the film for a free public reception featuring Korean food and drink!  Watch the trailer. Satire specialist Jang Jin pokes fun at everything from reality TV to organized religion in this comedy. Two brothers, separated as children when one of them was adopted by an American family, are reunited on a tear-jerking talk show. When their dementia-suffering mother wanders off during filming, the brothers—one now a devout Christian, the other a Korean shaman—go on a wild goose chase across Korea, accompanied by an ever-present camera crew. (Dir.: Jang Jin, Korea, 2014, 101 min. DCP, Korean with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Saturday, May 30, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "Quiz Show Scandal"

In person: Jang Jin Watch the trailer. During a police interrogation following a multi-car pileup, four drivers accidentally learn the winning answer to an upcoming episode of a popular quiz show—with a prize worth more than $10 million. Jang Jin uses this brilliantly absurd premise as a springboard for a wide-ranging comic satire of Korean society, from big business corruption to blind nationalism. Quiz Show Scandal is stocked with eccentric characters and bookended by two tour-de-force set pieces. “It’s a great concept, and Jang handles his talented ensemble with a superb sense of fun” (Russell Edwards, Variety). (Dir.: Jang Jin, Korea, 2010, 119 min. Digibeta, Korean with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Sunday, May 31, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "Haemoo"

Watch the trailer. Produced and cowritten by the internationally renowned Bong Joon-ho (director of Snowpiercer and The Host), Haemoo is based on a popular play that was itself inspired by true events. After a disappointing catch, the crew of a rundown fishing boat agrees to transport 30 illegal Chinese immigrants. A shocking and tragic accident occurs, and the crew must decide just how much their cargo’s lives are worth—and how far they’ll go to protect themselves from prosecution. The title, which translates to “sea fog,” refers to a nautical phenomenon that can trap ships at sea; here, it serves as a metaphor for the moral fog in which its characters find themselves. “It's a gripping ride … with powerful imagery, a simple and accessible story and a stellar performance from Kim Yoon-seok (the star of The Yellow Sea and The Thieves, no less) as a captain slowly spiraling towards madness” (Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter). (Dir.: Shim Sung-ho, Korea, 2014, 110 min. DCP, Korean with English… Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Friday, June 5, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "End of Winter"

After celebrating his retirement from teaching at a provincial school, Kim Seong-geum surprises his family by announcing that he’s getting a divorce. A snowstorm prevents his wife and sons from returning to Seoul, and the family is forced to reckon with one another while trapped for two days in his house. This “keenly observed portrait of a family living in a communication vacuum and how that leads directly to an irreversible tipping point” (Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter) shared the top prize in the Busan International Film Festival’s prestigious New Currents competition. (Dir.: Kim Dae-hwan, Korea, 2014, 102 min. DCP, Korean with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Sunday, June 7, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "The Liar"

Kim Kkot-bi, one of Korea’s most talented young actresses, gives a “superb lead performance” (Richard Kuipers, Variety) in this compelling drama that exposes the fault lines between Korea’s rich and poor. Kim plays Ah-young, a beauty clinic worker who shares a cramped apartment with her alcoholic sister but imagines herself to be rich. She shops for luxury apartments and fancy cars as if she has the means to buy them, and boasts to her coworkers about a made-up wealthy fiancé who will soon take her away. As her attempts to maintain her fantasy life become more and more complicated, her real life threatens to fall apart. (Dir.: Kim Dong-myung, Korea, 2014, 95 min. DCP, Korean with English subtitles). Categories: After Five. Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Friday, June 12, 2015, 7:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "Hill of Freedom"

Watch the trailer. In the latest film from the prolific Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country, Woman on the Beach), a young woman named Kwon begins reading a packet of letters that have fallen out of order. The film depicts what she reads, leaping back and forth in time to tell the story of the relationship between Kwon and the writer, Mori (Ryo Kase, Letters from Iwo Jima, Like Someone in Love), a Japanese man who has returned to Korea to search for her. Like all of Hong’s films, Hill of Freedom is a smart, witty puzzle involving time, romance, humor, and politics. “I don’t hesitate to apply the M-word—masterwork—to this new film” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker). (Dir.: Hong Sang-soo, Korea, 2014, 67 min. DCP, Korean and English with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Sunday, June 14, 2015, 2:00 PM.

Korean Film Festival: "A Midsummer’s Fantasia"

Watch the trailer. This quiet, subtle feature from indie auteur Jang Kun-jae (Sleepless Night) is divided into two parts. The first section, shot in black and white, follows a filmmaker scouting locations in a sleepy Japanese town dominated by the elderly because the younger people have all moved away. In a quasi-documentary style, Jang films the town’s remaining denizens and the young government official trying to get the community back on its feet. Switching to color, the second part is a story invented by the filmmaker in the first half. In it, a young Korean woman explores the same town and enters a flirtatious relationship with one of the few young men left there. The film’s restrained style is in perfect keeping with the languid rhythms of its setting, and the sparse dialogue emphasizes that what is left unsaid often is as important as what is stated out loud. (Dir.: Jang Kun-jae, Korea, 2014, 96 min. B&W and color, DCP, Korean and Japanese with English subtitles). Categories: Films. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Sunday, June 14, 2015, 3:30 PM.

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky: "Electric Imaginary: Compositions Inspired by Nam June Paik"

Artist Nam June Paik (1932–2006) once said, “The future is now.” This performance pays homage to Paik with digital media compositions that reflect the complex connections between contemporary art and music. Composer, multimedia artist, and writer Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, and guest artists perform Electric Imaginary, a virtual cello quartet and installation. Commissioned by Asia Society in 2014, the work is based on cellist Charlotte Moorman’s collaborations with Paik on his early multimedia experiments. The evening also features selections from Seoul Counterpoint, a composition commissioned by the Seoul Institute of the Arts in 2014 that juxtaposes the new urban landscape of Seoul with that of New York City. Equally inspired by Nam June Paik in this work, Miller collages his own landscape in sound and image. Seoul Counterpoint was originally produced by La MaMa in association with CultureHub, and created with the support of the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Electric Imaginary was originally… Categories: Films. Performances. Co-sponsor: This event is cosponsored by the Korean Cultural Center, Washington, DC. Venue: Freer Gallery of Art. Event Location: Meyer Auditorium. Cost: Free. Sunday, June 21, 2015, 5:00 PM.