August 15, 2017, 7:00 P.M.
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Outside the Box [Office], SCA Alumni Screening Series, and Samuel Goldwyn Films, invite you and a guest to a special preview screening of
Written and Directed by SCA Alumnus Justin Chon
Produced by James J. Yi and Alex Chi
Followed by a Q&A with Justin Chon, James J. Yi, Alex Chi, Actress Simone Baker, and DP/SCA MFA Production Student Ante Cheng
7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPs REQUIRED.
Winner: Audience Award, NEXT - 2017 Sundance Film Festival; Best Actress & Best Director (Narrative Feature) - 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; Audience Award - CAAMFest 2017.
Official Selection: 2017 Sundance Film Festival; 2017 Seattle International Film Festival; 2017 Independent Film Festival Boston; 2017 Montclair Film Festival.
In Theaters on Friday, August 18th, 2017.
Eli (Justin Chon) and Daniel (David So) are two Korean American brothers that run their late father’s shoe store in a predominantly African American community of Los Angeles. These two brothers strike up a unique and unlikely friendship with an 11-year-old African American girl, Kamilla (Simone Baker). As Daniel dreams of becoming a recording artist and Eli struggles to keep the store afloat, racial tensions build to a breaking point in L.A. as the “infamous” L.A. Riots break out.
Provided courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films. Not rated. Running time: 94 minutes. In English and Korean, with English subtitles.
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of talk about diversity, but that's all it has been, TALK.
As an artist, I believe that my true contribution to the issue of diversity is to create films I feel are important to the Asian American narrative. So for the past few years, my mantra has been create, create, create.
While I was developing Gook, I asked myself what was important that I represent. First and foremost, I wanted to show regular guys I knew growing up. The 2 brothers in the film are simply blue collar working class Korean Americans with no ambitions other than to survive and make a living for themselves. They have no aspirations to run a Fortune 500 company, no desire to go to an ivy league or make enough to live in the suburbs. I grew up with many of these guys, yet in traditional media, Asian Americans are portrayed as being great students, intelligent, and very skilled at math. HAHA. While those traits are amazing, they do not represent the entirety of our community.
Through this project, I was able to represent two of the most underrepresented minorities in film… Asian American men and African American females. When I had the choice of either making my lead character a male or female, I found it to be a great opportunity to write in a resilient African American girl. My goal was to give the characters real wants and needs through three dimensional portrayals.
Another aspect traditional films don't address is the rift between the older and newer generations of Asian Americans. I wanted to show that even within our own ethnicities, we don't always get along. Hence the relationship between the boys and the liquor store owner across the street, Mr. Kim.
2017 is the 25th year anniversary of LA riots. It has been 25 years since the verdict of the Rodney King trial was read and things haven't gotten much better and in some ways, they have gotten worse. My father, Sang Chon, who plays Mr. Kim in the film, experienced the riots first hand. He had a store in Paramount, which was looted on the final day of the riots. I'm certain other films about the riots will be made, but I thought it was absolutely imperative that the Korean experience be told. Often times our struggle and loss during this event is not publicized and overlooked.
I feel it is my duty to honestly tell our story in a unique way and this is my contribution to what we Koreans experienced during those days in April 1992.
-- Justin Chon
About the Guests
JUSTIN CHON (Writer, Director, Executive Producer, Actor, SCA Alumnus)
Justin Chon was born in Orange County, CA, and has worked as an actor for over 15 years. As a writer/director, his first feature film, Man Up, was distributed by Lakeshore Entertainment. He loves longwalks on the beach and reading novels by candlelight.
SIMONE BAKER (Actress, "Kamilla")
Simone Baker is a Los Angeles based actor and singer. Born in Chicago, Simone’s love for music and singing was noticed early by family and friends. Her mother’s involvement in the city’s theater scene planted the seed for Simone’s love of acting. At the age of four, Simone moved to Los Angeles with her mother, where she went on to appear in several commercials and short films. She also performed in several theater productions, including an adaptation of Frozen as the lead, Elsa.
Her big acting opportunity came soon after with the film, Gook. The director, Justin Chon, and producers, James Yi and Alex Chi, sought out the film’s lead character, Kamilla, from the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center, where Simone was introduced to them by the director, Mr. Pullum. She was cast that same afternoon as Kamilla, which also happened to be her birthday.
Since playing Kamilla in Gook, Simone has continued performing. She attends a performing arts middle school where she showcases her singing and dancing. She has also performed in other local musical theater productions such as The Wiz. She was honored to guest star as Flora Harris on the season 6 finale of American Horror Story: Roanoke directed by Bradley Buecker. Simone also voices the character "Puppy Sugar" in the soon to be released animated feature, A Dog's Dream directed by Kenny Roy. In addition to performing, Simone loves to read, sew (especially clothes for her stuffed animals), draw, paint, bake, and of course eat good food.
ANTE CHENG (Director of Photography, SCA MFA Production Student)
Ante Cheng is a cinematographer from Taipei. His narrative works include Gook (Sundance 2017 NEXT Audience award) and Afuera (LA Film Festival 2016). He started off filming music videos (15+ million views) and commercials (Microsoft, Lexus, Samsung). Currently, Ante is a third year MFA student at USC, and he is looking forward to make movies that inspire.
About Outside the Box [Office]
Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.
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About the SCA Alumni Screening Series
The School of Cinematic Arts invites you to an exciting free screening series featuring a dynamic selection of new feature films by SCA alumni and faculty throughout 2017. All screenings and events will be free of charge and open to the public, although we do ask for an electronic reservation for each screening, which can be made through the website for each individual screening.
Check-In & Reservations
This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.
All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.
The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.
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