Cultural Tourism DC Calendar

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Apr
28
Sun
Film: “Crying Fist”
Apr 28 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Ryoo Seung-Wan’s early masterpiece delivers a one-two punch of rage and redemption. Former silver-medalist boxer Kang Tae Shik (Oldboy star Choi Min-sik) sells himself as a human punching bag on the streets of Seoul while ducking loan sharks and trying to keep his marriage together. Fresh out of jail, young ruffian Yoo Sang-hwan runs around town wreaking havoc until he finds boxing to be a perfect vent for his untenable aggression. These two desperate men’s paths meet when an amateur boxing competition offers a major cash prize. Ryoo dealt the boxing genre the ultimate uppercut, pitting underdog against underdog. And no matter how hard they fight, everyone’s a loser, because life itself is the ultimate rigged match. Description courtesy of the New York Asian Film Festival. (Dir.: Ryoo Seung-wan, Korea, 2005, 134 min., 35mm, Korean with English subtitles)

May
1
Wed
Film: “Street of Shame”
May 1 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Kenji Mizoguchi brought a lifetime of experience to his final film, the heartbreaking tale of a brothel full of women whose dreams are constantly shattered by their socioeconomic realities. Set in Tokyo’s red-light district (the literal translation of the film’s Japanese title), Street of Shame was deeply cutting and hugely popular. In fact, when an antiprostitution law was passed in Japan a few months after its release, some said the film had been a catalyst. (Dir.: Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 1956, 85 min., 35mm, Japanese with English subtitles)

May
6
Mon
Film: “Flower Drum Song”
May 6 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we present the first Hollywood movie to feature a majority Asian American cast. Based on a novel by Chinese American author Chin Yang Lee, this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is a lighthearted look at young Chinese Americans and their tradition-bound parents in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It features imaginative choreography and an array of classic tunes, such as the eternal earworm “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” (Dir.: Henry Koster, United States, 1961, 132 min., Blu-ray, English)

May
10
Fri
Film: “Little Forest”
May 10 @ 7:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

The latest film from pioneering female director Yim Soon-rye (Waikiki Brothers, Forever the Moment) is the heartwarming story of a young woman (Kim Tae-ri, star of The Handmaiden) who abandons city life for her remote childhood home. There, she rediscovers the simple pleasures of growing and cooking her own food while reconnecting with childhood friends and her troubled single mother (Moon So-ri, who visits the festival on June 7). Yim, who has herself lived an agrarian lifestyle on a remote farm since 2005, shot the film over the course of a year to capture the changing seasons in the countryside. She also filled Little Forest with mouthwatering scenes of her young heroine preparing traditional dishes that will leave your stomach growling. (Dir.: Yim Soon-rye, Korea, 2018, 103 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

May
11
Sat
Screening: The Story of Yanxi Palace
May 11 @ 3:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Travel to the Forbidden City by watching the first two episodes of a 2018 TV drama that became a megahit in China, The Story of Yanxi Palace. Set in the Qing dynasty during the Qianlong emperor’s reign and full of gorgeous costumes and sets, the show reveals the world of the eighteenth-century Chinese court, complete with love, betrayal, and palace intrigue. It’s a must-see after visiting the exhibition Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912! (90 mins., Mandarin with English subtitles)

Join us before the screening for a 2 pm talk: “Women of the Qing Court: History and Fantasy.”

May
12
Sun
Film: “Grass”
May 12 @ 1:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Watch the trailer.

One of two features that global art-house favorite Hong Sang-soo directed last year (the other, Hotel by the River, screens on May 12), Grass takes place almost entirely in a pleasant Seoul café. Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden, On the Beach at Night Alone) stars as A-reum. She sits alone pecking at her laptop and eavesdropping on other customers, whose conversations range from relationship troubles to artistic ambitions. In typical Hong fashion, we soon become aware that nothing is as straightforward as it appears: scenes are out of order, and we begin to wonder whether A-reum is simply recording the events around her or creating the very fiction we are watching. “[A] deceptively potent entry in the canon, a thimbleful of purest, concentrated Hong-brand soju” (Jessica Kiang, Variety). (Dir.: Hong Sang-soo, Korea, 2018, 66 min., B&W, DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

[Images courtesy of Cinema Guild]

Film: “Hotel by the River”
May 12 @ 3:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Watch the trailer.

The latest feature from award-winning auteur Hong Sang-soo follows two interconnected storylines set in and around a quiet hotel in winter. In one, an aging poet (Ki Joo-bong) is visited by his estranged adult sons. In the other, a young woman (Kim Min-hee) with an unexplained hand wound holes up with a friend to recover from a bad breakup. Evoking the currents of the river that runs alongside the hotel, their stories occasionally cross and sometimes almost flow together as one. Sporting Hong’s customary mix of gentle comedy and haunting melancholy, Hotel by the River prompted Giovanna Fulvi of the Toronto International Film Festival to enthuse, “Hong Sang-soo possesses a singular mastery for blending the mundane with the cosmic and the minutiae of human foibles with ageless queries into the riddles of time’s passage.” (Dir.: Hong Sang-soo, Korea, 2018, 96 min., B&W, DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

[Images courtesy of Cinema Guild]

May
13
Mon
Film: “Song of Lahore”
May 13 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

Song of Lahore follows Sachal Studios musicians from their hometown in Pakistan to New York City. After receiving a personal invitation from artistic director Wynton Marsalis, they take the stage for a moving performance with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Description courtesy of Broad Green Pictures. (Dirs.: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, United States, 2015, 82 min., DCP, English, Urdu, and Punjabi with English subtitles)

May
18
Sat
Film: “Burning”
May 18 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

After the screening, head to the Freer conference room for refreshments and an informal discussion of the film and its literary inspirations: two short stories by William Faulkner and Haruki Murakami titled “Barn Burning.”

Watch the trailer.

The most acclaimed Korean film to hit American shores in years, Burning dominated 2018 top-ten lists and received accolades around the world. Lee Chang-dong (the Poetry and Secret Sunshine director who visited our festival in 2008) based this tale of a simmering love triangle on short stories—both titled “Barn Burning”—by William Faulkner and Haruki Murakami. Lee brilliantly blended the two tales into a riveting cinematic experience that continues to haunt the viewer long after the lights come up. As part of our Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration, join us for a special screening followed by refreshments and an informal discussion of the film’s literary inspirations. (Dir.: Lee Chang-dong, Korea, 2018, 148 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

May
20
Mon
Film: “Junun”
May 20 @ 1:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

Filmed in India’s spectacular fifteenth-century Mehrangarh Fort, this rare documentary by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) captures Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s collaboration with Israeli singer Shye Ben Tzur and Indian ensemble Rajasthan Express. (Dir.: Paul Thomas Anderson, United States, 2015, 54 min., DCP, English, Hebrew, Hindi, and Urdu with English subtitles)

[PHOTO CREDIT: Shin Katan]

May
31
Fri
Film: “Hit the Night”
May 31 @ 7:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

The winner of two major awards at the 2017 Busan International Film Festival, this indie gem inspired reviewers to hail director Jeong Ga-young as the female Hong Sang-soo (whose latest films play on May 12). But where Hong’s films often feature male artists using their fame to hit on young women over endless rounds of soju, Jeong turns the tables. Playing an independent filmmaker much like herself, Jeong invites a handsome young actor (played by K-Drama heartthrob Park Jong-hwan) out for drinks under the pretense of interviewing him for her latest project. But her real goal is to get him into bed. As the liquor flows and her questions range from provocative to explicit, the results are flustering (for him), hilarious (for the audience), and, in their frank treatment of female desire, utterly unique in Korean cinema. As Jeong said in an interview of the character she created: “She is sexually liberated, she knows what she wants, and she’s very self-assured. I feel that is a kind of a character that is hard to see in Korean media nowadays.” Intended for mature audiences. (Dir.: Jeong Ga-young, Korea, 2017, 85 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

Jun
1
Sat
Screening: The Story of Yanxi Palace
Jun 1 @ 3:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Travel to the Forbidden City by watching the first two episodes of a 2018 TV drama that became a megahit in China, The Story of Yanxi Palace. Set in the Qing dynasty during the Qianlong emperor’s reign and full of gorgeous costumes and sets, the show reveals the world of the eighteenth-century Chinese court, complete with love, betrayal, and palace intrigue. It’s a must-see after visiting the exhibition Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912! (90 mins., Mandarin with English subtitles)

Join us before the screening for a 2 pm talk: “Women of the Qing Court: History and Fantasy.”

Jun
5
Wed
Film: “Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance”
Jun 5 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

Lady Snowblood made such an impression on our matinee audience last year that we just had to present the sequel. Our furious heroine (Meiko Kaji) is captured by the authorities and sentenced to death for the various killings she has committed. However, she is offered a chance to escape—if she carries out dangerous orders for the government. More politically minded than the original, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance is full of exciting plot turns and ingenious action sequences. Description courtesy of Janus Films. (Dir.: Toshiya Fujita, Japan, 1974, 89 min., DCP, Japanese with English subtitles)

Jun
7
Fri
Film: “The Running Actress”
Jun 7 @ 7:00 pm – 7:00 pm

In person: Moon So-ri, director and actress

The award-winning star of such films as Oasis and A Good Lawyer’s Wife, Moon So-ri has been one of Korea’s most famous actresses for years. Recently, she turned her talents to directing. The result is a semifictional self-portrait in three parts. In the first, a chance meeting with a famous producer highlights the sexism still present in the Korean film industry. The second depicts a typical week in Moon’s life (including a cameo by her real-life husband, director Jang Joon-hwan, who visits us June 9 with his film 1987: When the Day Comes). Finally, another director’s funeral becomes an occasion for arguments and reflections by Moon and two fellow actresses. All three parts showcase her talent for mixing humor and pathos. (Dir.: Moon So-ri, Korea, 2017, 71 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

Jun
9
Sun
Film: “1987: When the Day Comes”
Jun 9 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

In person: Jang Joon-hwan, director

Watch the trailer.

Beginning with his cult hit Save the Green Planet!, Jang Joon-hwan has shown a facility for creating fast-paced, compelling pop art out of weighty themes. 1987: When the Day Comes is his most accomplished effort to date. This political thriller tells the true story of a student activist’s death and its subsequent cover-up, which sparked the 1987 June democracy movement that eventually ousted Chun Doo-hwan’s military dictatorship and brought democracy to South Korea. Jang expertly weaves together multiple storylines and a host of characters (played by a who’s who of Korean movie stars) into a drama that is gripping from start to finish. The film is directed, in the words of Variety’s Maggie Lee, “with a combination of humanistic ardor and intelligent insight,” resulting in “a compelling depiction of how brave individuals from all walks of life mobilized a whole nation to bring a recalcitrant dictator and his henchmen to their knees.” (Dir.: Jang Joon-hwan, Korea, 2017, 129 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

Jun
14
Fri
Film: “Microhabitat”
Jun 14 @ 7:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

Jeon Go-woon’s impressive debut feature is, according to Rebecca Pahle of Film Journal International, “emotionally complex and bittersweet . . . a quiet miniature masterpiece.” It stars actress and model Esom as a musician turned cleaning woman. She has pared down her life to the bare essentials—whiskey, cigarettes, and a roof over her head—in an attempt to drop out of Korea’s high-pressure society. But when she loses her apartment, she is forced to depend on the kindness of old friends, causing her to question whether her personal code of honor is sustainable. “Microhabitat pulls off the rare feat of straddling the stark social realities of Korea’s indie cinema and the entertaining sheen of its commercial films. Jeon’s debut is vibrant and fun, yet always thoughtful and often poignant” (Pierce Conran, Screen Anarchy). (Dir.: Jeon Go-woon, Korea, 2017, 106 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

Jun
16
Sun
Film: “The Fortress”
Jun 16 @ 2:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Watch the trailer.

Set in 1636, this sweeping historical epic tells the story of China’s invasion of Korea and the stalwart soldiers who waged a last-ditch defense of a mountain fortification. Balancing action-packed battle scenes with meticulous evocations of political backstabbing in the royal court, Hwang Dong-hyuk’s film upholds the grand tradition of large-scale Korean period dramas. (Dir.: Hwang Dong-hyuk, Korea, 2017, 139 min., DCP, Korean with English subtitles)

Jun
23
Sun
After the Flaherty Seminar Screening
Jun 23 @ 3:00 pm – 3:00 pm

In conjunction with the 65th Annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, 2019 programmer Shai Heredia presents recent moving-image work that explores the political landscape through innovative documentary form. A conversation with Shai Heredia and filmmakers featured at the Flaherty Seminar this year follows the screening. Filmmakers and titles are announced in June.