Summarised by writer-director-star Justin Chon as, “a heartfelt film exploring families and relationships between Korean and African American communities set during the LA Riots”, the independent dramedy GOOK promises to offer vital representation of the Korean American experience. Revolving around Korean American brothers Eli (Chon) and Daniel (YouTube personality David So), who own a struggling shoe store and have formed an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old African-American girl Kamilla (Simone Baker). When Eli scores a stash of fresh sneakers, he sees a golden opportunity to get out of debt, but complications involving Kamilla’s brother Keith (Curtiss Cook Jr.) and the rapidly escalating LA riots threaten to scupper his plans.
This narrative stems from Chon’s personal experience – on the final day of the LA riots in 1992, his father’s shoe store was looted while many of his friends and family from the Korean community lost everything in the chaos. As Chon elaborates on the project’s Kickstarter page:
For many years, I have always felt there was a need for a film to properly represent the 1992 riots and the Korean American experience during this tumultuous time. Every film that has come out to date about the riots unfortunately share a poor representation of the events that actually took place, especially towards Korean Americans and that has always struck a nerve with me. Next year is the 25th Anniversary of the LA riots and although I’ve heard of several more films going into production about the subject matter none of them truly captures the Korean American voice. That’s when I decided that this was the time for me to make a real film about the riots and to share my experiences and tell our story.
While many Kickstarter campaigns aim to get projects off the ground, GOOK is actually in the can already with Chon now seeking to raise the $30,000 necessary to cover such post-production costs as editing, music, visual effects, and marketing expenses.
Chon’s goal is get GOOK on to the festival circuit in 2017, thereby laying the groundwork for the digital, VOD, cable, and theatrical distribution that will bring this socially relevant project to a wide audience.
Rewards for pledging the project include digital downloads, signed postcards, limited edition T-shirts, a signed copy of the script, and tickets to the film’s LA premiere.
GOOK is the second feature for Chon in a directorial capacity following his slacker comedy Man Up (2015). He was most recently seen in Benson Lee’s critically acclaimed teen comedy Seoul Searching (2015).