Directed by Justin Chon
NEXT Audience Award, 2017 Sundance Film Festival
Audience Award (Narrative), 2017 CAAMFest
April 29, 1992. Sa-i-gu. Over the course of the day, Eli will get a black eye and “gook” scribbled on the hood of his car, accumulated reminders that he’s not wanted in the black and Latino neighborhood. He can’t erase either, just as he can’t shed the burden of running the ladies shoe store he inherited from his immigrant father. In that store, on this day, with the Rodney King verdict playing on TV and the smoke billowing in the distance, he and others in the community are going to confront the pain festering on both sides of the graffiti.
There have been films about the LA Uprising, but none with the passion and perspective that GOOK provides: that of two individuals caught between the Black-Asian divide exacerbated by the mainstream media and the frustrations of poverty. Eli has no love for his job, but he feels the responsibility to at least do it right, unlike the Korean-speaking Mr. Kim across the street who treats anyone coming into his liquor store with hostility. Meanwhile, Eli’s black “sister” Kamilla drifts between worlds that don’t know what to do with her, embodying the community but also the tensions it refuses to reconcile.
The ironies they both represent add to what is ostensibly a comedy firebombed by violence and anguish. Director-writer-star Justin Chon (Seoul Searching, SDAFF ‘15) firstly commits to the conversation and camaraderie of the Paramount streets, finding in laughter the fabric that makes the ultimate ruptures that much more shattering. Ambitious in style and scope, urgent in its subject, and personal to the core, GOOK is unlike anything else in American cinema right now. –Brian Hu
Filmmakers scheduled to appear
2015: Man Up
Producer: Justin Chon, Alex Chi, James J. Yi
Writer: Justin Chon
Starring: Justin Chon, Simone Baker, Curtiss Cook Jr., David So