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Asian Horror Cinema and beyond

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OCTOBER 07, 2011

Who says that horror film has no place in scholastic discourse?

On October 7th and 8th, Friday and Saturday, UC Berkeley will host an academic symposium entitled “Asian Horror Cinema and Beyond” at the David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way at Oxford).

The event organizers are Miri Nakamura, assistant professor of Asian Languages and Literatures at Wesleyan, and our own Dan O’Neill, associate professor in the East Asian Languages and Cultures department at Berkeley.

On Friday, day one of the event, 2007’s Epitaph, directed by Jeong Beom-Sik and Jeon-Sik, will screen at the center. It’s a visually striking Korean horror film about a hospital, undoubtedly haunted by girl corpses and dead children, in Seoul that closed in 1942. The film will be screened at 7:30pm, and accompanied prior by three panel discussions, with an interest in memory, media and desire and their relation to the horror genre, and how the ideology of horror changes when we find it on display in another country. The panel discussions begin at 12:45pm, with introductory remarks by Nakamura and O’Neill.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AaSCjLMREQ&w=560&h=315]

On day two, Apichatpong Weerasethekul’s 2011 “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” will screen at 3:15pm. The Thai “Boonmee” won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. It is a remarkable, exquisite film that spans a swath of genres while also grounding itself in the realm of mysticism, magical realism, history and colonialism. This is not typically considered a horror film, but the panel discussions, beginning at 10 am, will situate the film within that precarious context.

The event offers “alternative reading strategies and theoretical positions with which to assess the sprawling commercial political, and aesthetic ambitions of Asian horror cinema,” according to its website, which has more detailed information about the discussions and scholars in attendance.

For a horror buff like myself, it’s refreshing to see this often maligned genre find its place in a critical consciousness.

Image source: Flixter.com

Contact Ryan Lattanzio at 


OCTOBER 07, 2011