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The Margins of Dream Language: Contemporary Korean Female Experimental Filmmakers

The Margins of Dream Language: Contemporary Korean Female Experimental Filmmakers

Whispers in the Water, By Onyou Oh (2020)

Los Angeles Filmforum, GYOPO, and LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)


The Margins of Dream Language: Contemporary Korean Female Experimental Filmmakers

Sunday April 23, 2023, 1:00 pm

At 2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90057

Free.  RSVP required at


Masks are still required at Filmforum shows - N95 or KN95.

When image and language are paired together, written and spoken words can reposition the image’s hierarchical role and create an opportunity for a new point of view. In this program, Korean female filmmakers use text itself as a material—either directly burned into the film or inserted as voice over—to push cinema towards a radical location or realm, engaging with an expansive legacy of colonial power dynamics. With the understanding that translated language with subtitles always creates a gap, this series welcomes and engages with it as an act of defiance, insisting on opacity and being unexplainable. 

The selected films are in subtle unity as they repurpose the dominant language and reclaim it to propel the discourse on diasporic identity. Yet each filmmaker also asks audiences to recognize her unique directionality and experiences consciously. These films have either directly or loosely emerged from themes of Korean female identity, but they also propose divergent responses to militarism, homogeneity,  patriarchy, immigration issues, etc. Eventually, they invite audiences to build bridges between poetic dream, politics, and the decolonial gaze. 

This screening, curated by Seokyoung Yang, includes works by Eugene Mayu Kim, Heehyun Choi, Woojin Kim, Onyou Oh, and Boyoon Choi, an essay by Jae Min Lee.  It will be followed by a conversation between curator Seokyoung Yang and writer Jae Min Lee.

ASL interpretation will be provided.

"Feeling marooned on an island of foreignness manifests in different ways for different people – while some embrace said foreignness and enjoy it, mine manifested into intense cases of homesickness that transformed into my craving for validation and feeling of inclusion. When I entered college in America, away from home

back in South Korea, I was extremely lost – amid the white American students who frolicked about shows I had never heard before, and singers I did not know existed, the atmosphere felt welcoming, yet overwhelmingly aloof…" -- Jae Min Lee

Jae Min Lee (she/her) is a writer born and raised in the busy city of Seoul in South Korea. Jae Min is an enthusi- ast of cinema that is created through an anti-colonist, non- male, non-white viewpoint and that challenges the status quo. She uses writing as a medium to show her appreciation for said media and further criticizes ones that continue to reinforce the colonialist status quo. Jae Min is currently in the senior year of her undergraduate studies at Smith College, majoring in sociology and film and media studies.

Curator Seokyoung Yang (she/they) is a filmmaker, poet, and curator dedicated to artistic experimentation. Born and raised in Korea, she investigates the correlation between language and diasporic identity.  Her works have been screened at San Diego Aisan Film Festival, Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, Minsheng Art Museum, and Minnesota International Film Festival. She has previously worked for the Camden International Film Festival programming team.

Special thanks to those who have supported her to develop the program:

Berenice Reynaud, Betzy Bromberg, Corina Copp, Edgar Jorge Baralt, Jheanelle Brown, Julie Murray, K.J. Relth-Miller, Micah Gottlieb, Michael Leong, Mike Stoltz,  Nina Ma, Onyou Oh, Patricia Ledesma Villon, Sarah Yanni, and Xiao Zhang

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest- running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation. 2023 is our 48th year.

GYOPO is a collective of diasporic Korean cultural producers and arts professionals generating and sharing progressive, critical, intersectional and intergenerational discourses, community alliances, and free educational programs in Los Angeles and beyond.

LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) presents artist-driven, community responsive public projects. The organization empowers artists with dynamic, unconventional practices to have autonomy over the presentation of their work and in meaningful, direct connection with the public. https:/  

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Rei, Daddy, Liberty

Rei, Daddy, Liberty

By Eugene Mayu Kim

2021, HD, 15 min.

It was only after I was born that my father became a Japanese animation maniac. He left behind Neon Genesis Evangelion's "AyanamiRei" figure. She is a medium that makes me think about my father, my family and my hometown, the past and history. She and I have to leave our lifelong neighborhood and start a new life.

Eugene Mayu Kim | Based in Seoul, South Korea, Eugene grew up under artistic influence from his father, who enjoyed and commercialized 20th century pop culture such as animation, music, and movies. In 2022, she obtained a BFA degree from the Department of Film and Animation at Hongik University. From fashion films to KPOP competition programs, she is gaining various experiences in the commercial video industry. As an artist, with video media as the final destination, she explores essays, photos, and music. Through the work, she wants to develop insights that logically interpret the organicities of life that seem destined.

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This Isn’t What It Appears

This Isn’t What It Appears

By Heehyun Choi

2022, Super 8 to HD, 19 min.

Among everything obscure in an image, there is always the camera. This Isn’t What It Appears reconstructs and radicalizes ways to see and interpret archival photographs of Korean women taken in the 1950s by American soldiers stationed in South Korea. This film attempts to reveal the camera within the frame, not as an omniscient eye but as a reciprocal medium that subverts the hierarchy in an image.

Heehyun Choi is a moving image artist based in Los Angeles, CA, and Seoul, South Korea. Her recent works are grounded on the interest in the coexistence of physicality and virtuality in projected images, the unseen beings outside the camera frame, and the subjectivity and variability of the act of seeing. Choi’s films have been screened at 25 FPS Festival, Vienna Shorts, Onion City Experimental Film+Video Festival, Seoul Independent Film Festival, and Ann Arbor Film Festival where she received the Mariam Ghani Juror Award.

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Korean Dictation Test You Will Have to Answer Questions You Hear

Korean Dictation Test You Will Have to Answer Questions You Hear

By Woojin Kim

2019, Single Channel Video, 7 min.

Memories project is the ongoing project, trying to critically consider the languages as a dispositif that make hidden social frames and people to be located in them. East Asia witnessed a gradual extinction of native languages in many parts of the region, and although they represent different nations and races, this common experience of loss binds them in a meaningful way. In Korea, we are educated to believe that we are a homogenous, single-race nation united by one language. In this film, young people cannot understand at all about old people’s words with Jeju language even though both are Koreans who use Korean language.

Woojin Kim received her Master degree in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Doctorate degree in Painting from Ewha Woman’s University. Through her practice, she tries making a fissure on what is regarded as “true or false” and “good or bad”, and creates a place for questions to arise.  She held several solo shows, such as “The Freezing Point, The Evaporation Point”, KIM CHONG YUNG Museum, 2022, Seoul, Korea, “You Will Have to Follow What You Hear”, Alter- native Space Loop, Seoul, Korea, 2019, and “Brave New Exercise: Memorized Movements,” Tokyo Art and Space, Hongo, Tokyo, Japan, 2017. In addition, she has participated in many group shows such as “Songeun Art Award’’, Songeun, Seoul, Korea, 2021, “The Future of Silence: When your tongue vanishes”, Pain Nam Jun Art Center, Yongin, Korea, 2020, and “Kotodama”, Para Site, Hong Kong, 2018.

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Whispers in the Water

Whispers in the Water

By Onyou Oh

2020, 16mm to digital, 9 min.

A woman who talks with dead people explores different language dimensions through her memories involving whispers and water. She learns, unlearns, and relearns how to speak. At the end of her journey, she encounters an existence whose voice resembles hers and sees how a language emerges from her breath.

Onyou Oh | Born in South Korea and raised in the Philippines, Onyou Oh is a filmmaker whose works vary from abstract, experimental pieces to poetic, narrative shorts. She received her MFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts. Her films have been invited to and screened at various film festivals, including Jeonju International Film Festival, EXiS: Experimental Film & Video Festival in Seoul, and San Diego Underground Film Festival. She currently creates eclectic visual imagery from her independent studio, Luminous Flux.

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How to Be an Expressive Artist

How to Be an Expressive Artist

By Boyoon Choi

2021, HD, 26 min.

In How to be an Expressive Artist, Boyoon Choi, who is an art student graduating in May 2021, discovers the manifesto that she wrote in her first year at CalArts. As she recites her manifesto, she looks back to her four-year college life. In a single video, Boyoon contains different aspects of herself. She not only presents stories of herself as an art student and an international student, but she also displays scenes from her private life—raw, unfiltered images of herself as a daughter and a friend. She also addresses her anxiety and fear about her future after graduation, finding herself worrying more about her future as an artist than the art-making itself. In the end, Boyoon asks herself a question: Did I really become an expressive artist?

Boyoon Choi is an artist who works with video, painting, and drawing. She is based in Seoul, South Korea. Boyoon enjoys sharing her personal experiences through her works, such as How to be an Expressive Artist, About Painting, and I’m not good at titling my work. She hopes the audiences of her works could experience the feeling, “I am not the only one.” She received her BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and she is currently an MFA Student at Yonsei University Graduate School of Communication & Arts.