Asian Film Series Offers International Viewpoints

10/29/2008

The Barbara and Richard M. Rosenberg Institute for East Asian Studies, in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, presents a look at cultural identity, political anxiety, and visual representation with an Asian Film Series this semester. Hosted by a faculty representative, each film in the series focuses on a different area of Asian culture. In total, the films explore a range of genres and time periods.  Films are screened and followed by a faculty-led discussion about important themes and about each film’s significance both domestically and internationally. 

Professor Mickey Lee, host of last week’s presentation of Kung Fu Hustle, explained the significance of the film:  “This film is the highest grossing film in Hong Kong history and the highest grossing foreign film in the US in 2005.  I believe there must be something that is remarkable about this film. Director Stephen Chow's films have received quite a lot of attention from Hong Kong critics in the 80s and 90s.  When the handover of Hong Kong to China was approaching, his films were said to be a reflection of Hong Kong people's anxiety about the integration with China.  He has developed his ‘nonsense’ style: he uses parody excessively. Many critics call his film style a postmodern pastiche.  The story line is usually simple, but it is filled with many cultural references that only ‘insiders’ (Hong Kong Chinese) would understand.  Hence, his films have helped Hong Kong Chinese to reaffirm their unique Hong Kong identity when the handover was approaching.”   Dr. Lee led students in a discussion which invited them to explore how the various cultural identities depicted in Kung Fu Hustle are viewed by American consumers, and how that, in turn, affects how Americans view Asian countries. 

Kung Fu Hustle will be followed up by Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar, on Wednesday, October 29th.  Dr. Afshan Bokhari, Professor of Art History, will host this sixteenth century love story that the New York Times describes as “filmmaking on the grand scale of Cecil B. DeMille, with romance, stirring battles, a cast of thousands and enough elephants and gold to sink the Titanic.” Finally, on Wednesday, November 19th, Shiri, directed by Je-gyu Kang, will be presented by Professor Simone Chun of the Government Department. Shiri has been described by Peter Zsukka, reviewer for KFC Cinema, as “an action packed movie with a mixed influence from both Hollywood and Hong Kong. It has the taste of big productions like The Rock yet holds elements of Asian cinema.” All screenings will take place in Donahue 311 at 5:30pm.

The Barbara and Richard M. Rosenberg Institute for East Asian Studies serves as Suffolk University’s lead platform in the field of East Asian Studies, analyzing important trends in East Asian culture, history, economics, and geo-political alliances and initiatives. More information about the center’s mission and activities can be found on the Rosenberg Institute’s Page.

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