The House of Suh by Iris K. Shim

Is “The House of Suh” cursed or merely haunted? Every time filmmaker Iris K. Shim shakes the Suh’s family tree, more skeletons fall out.

Making exceptional use of archival footage, court records, family tree diagrams and photos, interviews, storyboards and dramatic music, Shim demonstrates how events unfolded that led to Andrew Suh’s serving a 100-year prison sentence for murdering his sister’s boyfriend. What occurred that fateful September night in 1993, while Andrew was a 19 year-old college honor student, forced the culmination of the Suhs’ lives as a family.

Following a tragic accident, the Suh’s left Korea along with young daughter Catherine and baby boy Andrew. The family started a business in America, but struggled with language and soon began relying on young Andrew as their interpreter and entrusted him with accounting duties.

Meanwhile, Catherine battled her father over his authority and outright adulation of his only son. Everything Catherine was — angry, disobedient, rebellious, troubled — Andrew was the opposite of. Devoted to family and traditional values, he attempted to please everybody and ended up paying the ultimate price.

A shocking revelation makes this documentary especially spellbinding.

A Lot Like You by Eliaichi Kimaro

“A Lot Like You” is also a documentary with a shocking revelation and made by a Korean American filmmaker — that is, half of Eliaichi Kimaro’s heritage is Korean. The other half is Tanzanian and her film, also about family strife, focuses on her visit to her father’s village at Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although she’s been there many times before, Kimaro brings a camera this time to capture her family’s story. What she discovers is so horrific that it sends her retreating.

The loving relationship between Kimaro’s Korean mother and Tanzanian father is so tender that later on when the gruesome information is revealed to Kimaro by her father’s sisters, it’s nearly unfathomable that her mother’s opinion would oppose her dad’s.

Currently living in Seattle, Kimaro has presented her touching film at various venues.

Beijing Taxi by Miao Wang

Beijing Taxi is a delightful ride through China’s most modern city as viewed through the eyes of three cab drivers.

Bai Jiwen, descending from a family of coal miners, laments that he was unable to attend school due to the Cultural Revolution’s preference for peasants. Now in his 50s, he struggles to make a living driving a taxi in the uncompromising bureaucracy that is China. Visiting the unemployment office to apply for benefits, Bai reads a sign stating the office is opened only from 2 to 4 p.m.

“What kind of hours are those?” he wonders.

As much as Bai wants to work, another driver, Wei Caixia, yearns for freedom away from the demands of a job. The married mother of a young daughter, she finally opens the boutique she’s always dreamed of, but ends up gazing with longing at her bridal photos — pictures of her past.

On his days off, Zhou Yi enjoys fishing and family life with a daughter who aspires to dance. Meanwhile, his wish to drive a tour bus comes true during the countdown to the Beijing Olympics.

Steering foreigners about, these cab drivers encounter many interesting folks. When Bai has a conversation in Mandarin with an African American passenger, it’s clear there’s a new China on the horizon; and, documentary filmmaker Miao Wang takes us on a 78-minute ride to experience it.

Scene from “The Taqwacores”, directed by Eyad Zahra. Rumanni Filmworks.
Scene from “The Taqwacores”, directed by Eyad Zahra. Rumanni Filmworks.

The Taqwacores by Eyad Zahra

Even though they bow towards Mecca to pray five times a day, a group of young Muslims defy all stereotypes of their religion. Yusef is a Pakistani college student who moves into a house filled with young Muslims. By day, they pray. By night, they party — the punk rock way. Their lone female roommate wears a burqa, but spouts strong feminist opinions. And, their queer male friend dresses in drag.

Dancing, drinking, sexing, skateboarding, smoking, swearing, this group is also extremely loud. Taqwacore is a word combining “hardcore” with the Arabic word “taqwa” for piety, or “god-fearing”.

This feature film, based on the novel by Michael Muhammad Knight, opens at Northwest Film Forum on February 11 and continues through the 17th. 1(800) 838-3006

“The House of Suh”, “A Lot Like You”, and “Beijing Taxi” are currently without distribution. Visit their websites, below, for more information:

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