New York City’s film festival scene is a rich and vibrant kind, cultivated and host to a world of dazzling and unique features. Going into this summer, The New York Asian Film Festival will be no different this month with the announcement of its first venture, the U.S. premiere of Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels.
The Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY) is partnering with Film at Lincoln Center, and the New York Asian Film Foundation to present the hybrid live/cinematic show being billed as “a once in-a-lifetime film and concert experience marrying cinema with traditional Korean music (gugak)”. Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels has already made waves in the last three years including at Busan International Film Festival, and earlier this year at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival as a part of the Generation KPlus lineup.
Both a fairy tale and a phantasmagoria, the film follows two children, Su-min and her younger brother Dong-min, who accidentally fall in the realm of the dead after losing their grandmother’s shoes in a thoughtless, Faustian deal. As the children search the netherworld to retrieve the shoes, they encounter a mischievous band of living kokdu, the wooden figurines that guide the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
Melding fantasy and reality, Kokdu weaves between cinematic storytelling and an impressively staged theatrical piece. It explores Korean myths and traditions while dealing deftly with dark themes of death, guilt, and mourning, with a poignant and ultimately uplifting touch. As a spectacle, not only does Kokdu brim with music and dance, it makes the challenging topic of our mortality accessible to audiences of all ages.
Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels is helmed by director Kim Tae-yong (Memento Mori, critically acclaimed Late Autumn) and music director Bang Jun-Seok (The Throne, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days), accompanied with a 20-piece ensemble from the National Gugak Center, the representative headquarters of Korean traditional performing arts, making their North American debut.
The show will perform on June 29 at 7:00pm EST for an audience at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall located at 1941 Broadway, New York, NY 10023. Tickets – $20 to $50 – go on sale next Friday on May 24 at filmlinc.org/kokdu.