Watch the First Trailer for Sundance Film Festival Standout ‘Gook’
Despite the fact that the Sundance Film Festival purports to cater to independent artists, there’s still a push towards established names over brand new voices. Take Gook, for example. Although the film ultimately received an audience award, you won’t find Gook on any of the pre-festival lists of highly anticipated films, perhaps suggesting that our industry still focuses a bit more on the filmmakers whose work we already know (to the detriment of those just starting out). Thankfully, the film about race relations during the Los Angeles riots found its distributor over the summer, and now audiences around the country will have a chance to see Gook in theaters.
The first trailer for the film points to a mishmash of influences, including Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but the relationships between its main characters seem to belong to this movie alone. At a time where many people are asking Hollywood to produce more movies that speak to the black or Asian-American experience in Hollywood, here’s a film that speaks directly to those two groups. Good are bad, it’s hard not to think this is the type of film we should be championing and encouraging Hollywood to support.
Early reviews have been mostly positive, too. Even if critics agree that Gook falls short of the impact of Lee’s film, it does a worthy job of navigating race, politics, and relationships from a first-time dramatic filmmaker. “Gook rises above message-movie mediocrity,” the Hollywood Reporter noted, “enjoying its characters too much to use them as political mouthpieces.” Meanwhile, Variety noted that the film does get “a little too cute for comfort in spots, but is otherwise a lively, auspicious breakthrough.” Should Justin Chon emerge as an important filmmaker of his generation, this strikes me as the type of film that could easily develop a fervent following. Might as well get on early and avoid the rush, right?
Here’s the plot synopsis for Gook:
Eli and Daniel are two Korean American brothers that run their late father’s shoe store in a predominantly African American community of Los Angeles. These two brothers strike up a unique and unlikely friendship with an 11-year-old African American girl, Kamilla. As Daniel dreams of becoming a recording artist and Eli struggles to keep the store afloat, racial tensions build to a breaking point in L.A. as the “infamous” L.A. Riots break out.
Gook will hit theaters on August 18, 2017.