Asian film goes far beyond the cult-classic martial-arts movies Americans know and love. And that's part of the message that organizers of the Sewickley Series hope filmgoers will take away with them.
Sewickley Academy has partnered with Silk Screen -- a Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization that celebrates Asian arts and culture –to present a series of films focusing on women in Asian culture, as part of this year's Sewickley Series.
Part of the mission behind Silk Screen is to showcase the diversity of Asian culture and serve as an educational resource in the region.
Mandi Semple, director of Sewickley Academy's community and media relations, said this is a first that the Sewickley Series, now in its third year, has focused on film. In previous years, the series concentrated on dance and music.
"We're trying new things, expanding the kind of performances we're bringing," Semple said. "…We thought it would be an interesting take to go with women and Asian cultures."
The three-film series runs over the course of this month, beginning Saturday. The first film, Bhutto, is a recent Sundance world premiere that tells the epic story Benazir Bhutto, the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation.
Semple said the films are educational and most appropriate for middle-school ages and up.
Bhutto is the longest featured film, running a little less than two hours, but Semple said the film definitely "keeps you interested."
"Bhutto kind of captures your attention the whole time. It's pretty dramatic," she said.
Academy officials screened about a half dozen films before whittling the batch down to four. School officials then decided on two and let the community make the third choice from two other movies.
"So that's how the films were chosen" Semple said.
The other two showings are "North Korea: A Day in the Life," and "In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee." North Korea follows the family of Hong Sun Hui, a female worker in a textile factory, who takes viewers through an ordinary day in the country of Leader Kim Jong Il.
In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee" follows a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in the 1960s and kept her true identity secret from her new American family.
Each film will be followed by a moderated discussion and is free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged at www.sewickley.org/sewickleyseries.
Sewickley Series Featured Films:
|"Bhutto" (111 minutes) - 2 p.m. Saturday in Gregg Theater.
The epic story of Benazir Bhutto, the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation. A favored daughter of the family often called the "Kennedys of Pakistan," Benazir was elected Prime Minister after her father was overthrown and executed by his own military. A fascinating array of archival footage and interviews with family members and leading experts brings life to this tale of Shakespearean dimension in the country the Economist calls "the World's most dangerous place."
"North Korea: A Day in the Life" (48 minutes) - 7 p.m. Jan. 20 in Gregg Theater.
|The family of Hong Sun Hui, a female worker in a textile factory, takes us through an ordinary day in the country of the Beloved Leader Kim Jong Il. This film gives a privileged and captivating view of the process of social organization and indoctrination of North Korean citizens. The filmmaker's careful eye for detail and lingering camera allows the people to reveal their individual humanity despite their best efforts to remain on message. Ironically, the carefully controlled images reveal truth behind the veil of propaganda. A potent video coda plainly and effectively casts the theme of the power of media control into stark reality.
|"In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee" (62 minutes) - 2 p.m. Jan. 30, in Gregg Theater.
Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot