Four Korean M.F.A. Students Honored at CUNY Film Fest

Brooklyn, NY—A quartet of Brooklyn College M.F.A. students who hail from Korea were honored by the CUNY Asian American/Asian Research Institute during the 6th Annual Asian American Film Festival held recently at the Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre in Manhattan.

Yong-Hyun (Brad) Cho, Pyeunghun Baik, Juoak (Jade) Kim and Munjong (Arckii) Kim each received trophies for short films they created.

All four honored films will be honored again starting at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, when they are screened during the 32nd Asian American International Film Festival at the Museum of Chinese in America, 70 Mulberry St., in New York City. AAIFF is the longest-running film festival of its kind, showcasing the work of independent Asian and Asian American filmmakers.

The four students were enrolled in the M.F.A. program in television production, which prepares students for professional media careers as writers, producers, directors and editors. The production-based curriculum exposes them to numerous program genres, including documentary, drama, news, sports, art and cultural, experimental and demonstration, among others. Students develop content and produce and direct both single and multiple camera live switched productions.

“I’m very proud of the achievements of these students,” said TV and Radio’s Professor Stuart MacLelland. “They are all very creative and dedicated producers and directors who worked hard on their programs. They deserve the recognition they have received.”

The Asian American Film Festival was established in 2004 to promote the visual artistic talents of CUNY students. It is also intended to stimulate communication across campuses and to serve as a central location for the display of the creative work of Asian American students with colleagues in the same field of study or who share similar interests.

AAFF divides its entries into three categories: fiction, documentary and experimental. All entries in the festival must have at least one Asian or Asian American working as a member of the cast, crew or producing staff.

The films produced by the four Brooklyn College students were honored in the following categories:

Fiction Category:

Munjong Kim’s Fantastic Glass Portrait was a winner in the fiction category. It tells the story of a Korean woman who upon her arrival in New York is stunned by the vast ethnic diversity of the city’s population and confused by how she should react to the seeming differences among her new neighbors.

“In my country there is no confusion about racial identity,” explained the first-time director. “Everyone belongs to one race. We are all Koreans.”

Documentary Category:

Yong-Hyun Cho’s Waste: Not in My Backyard was voted a documentary winner in the documentary category. It examines how locating recycling stations in people’s neighborhoods raises the ire of local residents even though recycling is key to reducing waste, preserving our health and environment while saving our economy.

“Oh, my!” exclaimed Cho, recalling his feelings of surprise and pleasure as he sat in the audience with his mother and learned that his work was being honored. “I really felt great,” he said.

Juoak Kim’s The Edge of Heaven was named a runner-up in the documentary field. It looks at the discrimination and hardships that many Pakistani-Americans in the Little Pakistan neighborhood of Brooklyn suffered in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Though she had worked as a documentary writer back in Korea, Kim was also surprised by the diversity of people in New York. Once her professors at Brooklyn College had opened her mind, however, she began to learn about the plight of the Pakistanis.

Experimental Category:

Pyeunghun Baik’s Conflict Resolution was honored in the experimental category. It employs a blend of music, dance and graphics to explore the issues raised when different cultural backgrounds clash in a Korean and American love triangle involving a Western man and two Korean women.

“I couldn’t attend the night that my film was chosen,” said Baik. “I had to work. When my friend called me up and told me I didn’t believe it. I was completely in shock.”