Wednesday, February 14


Announcing a Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Blog-a-Thon, March 21, 2007

Korean director Hong Sang-soo is currently one of the most acclaimed figures on the world cinema scene. In some circles, that is. Though his work makes an almost annual appearance at certain international film festivals, none of it has ever come close to winning an Oscar or breaking a box office record.

No, Hong's name is still best-known, at least in the West, to academics, critics and festival junkies. In his program notes for a retrospective held at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio a year ago, Chris Stults wrote that "in all likelihood, no one working today thinks as consistently and complexly about form in narrative film as Hong does." His 2000 film Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors is no exception, bifurcated as it is into two intriguingly complimentary halves. I'm announcing a Blog-a-Thon, in which anyone reading this is invited to write something about Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors and post it on a blog on March 21st, 2007. If you don't have your own blog, e-mail me your contribution and I'll post it here at Hell On Frisco Bay. It's fine to include comparisons to other films of course, but I'd like all participating posts to center on Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors.

I've loved participating in the wonderful Blog-a-Thons held over the past year or so, in which bloggers have joined together on a single day (sometimes more) to discuss a topic like avant-garde cinema or vampire films. I even hosted one last August, which was great fun. One of my favorite aspects of the phenomenon has been the opportunity a scheduled event can provide for film bloggers, who have and usually take the freedom to follow their own whims on what to write about on their blogs, to discuss the same subject on the same day while it's very fresh in mind. So often I'll read a delightful new blog post and I'll want to chime in with my own thoughts on the film being discussed. But my memory can be an untrustworthy beast. If I haven't seen the film in a while, I might defer to the original author's freshly-conceived thoughts. If reading such a post sparks me to watch the film immediately myself, I'm likely to view it at least partially through the lens of the author's opinions. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I want to try something different.

That's why I'm hosting a Blog-a-Thon that turns its attention on a single film, one available from GreenCine and Netflix, and that can be discussed simultaneously while fresh in the mind of all participants. I've chosen Hong's Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors for an admittedly "cute" (too cute?) reason: the parallel between this film's complimentary halves and the kinds of fascinatingly fruitful disagreements two bloggers can experience was irresistible for me to pass up once it occurred to me.

There's another reason I've picked this particular film, and selected March 21st (despite its proximity to another upcoming Blog-a-Thon, namely the 1927 Blog-a-Thon at Goatdog's place, which I also plan to participate in). It's my way of celebrating. March 21st is the day Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors will be playing at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley as part of the 25th SF International Asian American Film Festival, with the director in attendance. The SFIAAFF has seemingly exceeded its usual high level of programming savvy for its quarter-century anniversary year, and for me the festival's anticipatory highlight is the complete seven-film Hong Sang-soo retrospective.

It's hard to believe Frisco Bay hasn't seen a public showing of a Hong film in nearly four years, when Turning Gate was part of a Korean film series at the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts. Since then, Hong has completed three films which will finally see their Frisco Bay debuts at the festival (March 14-24): Woman is the Future of Man, a Tale of Cinema and Woman on the Beach. All seven films (rounded out by his first two, the Day a Pig Fell Into the Well and the Power of Kangwon Province) will screen at the festival's newest venue, the AMC 1000 Van Ness. The AMC Van Ness screening of Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors will be on March 16th, leaving plenty of time for an attendee to put together something by the March 21st Blog-a-Thon.

But for participants far away from Frisco Bay, the film is as I said available on DVD and you're all invited. Whether you've seen it before or will be experiencing it for the first time, I hope you'll join me in a close examination of Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors here five weeks from today.

EDIT: this is the link to the official Blog-a-Thon directory post.

Oh Yeah! Can't wait. Can't wait to begin my contribution. Can't wait to read the other contributions. Can't wait to see Hong's films. Can't wait to meet Hong again. Can't wait to see the other films at the festival. I'm simply flooded with impatience.
Hi there,

Thanks for linking to my blog posts on Woman is the Future of Man and The Long Goodbye.

I'd love to write about Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors for your blog-a-thon --- that'll give me enough reason to use the Hong box-set I got that's been sitting in my DVD shelf for a year now.
I just sent it to the top of my Netflix queue. I hope I can snag a copy of the DVD before your Blog-a-Thon renders it unavailable. I've seen two other Hong films, "Woman on the Beach" and "The Power of Kangwon Province" and heard him speak at the NYFF, so I look forward to seeing and reading about "Virgin".
Canada's version of Netflix also had this film and it's in my #1 slot. I truly hope to see it in time for your deadline and be another voice in the 'Thon.
A great idea, Brian, that harkens back to the days of the original Showgirls/Code Unknown 'thons, which were fun and fascinating for exactly the reasons to cite-- everyone has their lasers focused on the same film at the same time, and yet the reactions and writings are still going to be all over the map and plenty worth reading. Count me in! Especially fun for me, as this will be my first exposure to Hong's films!
I'm excited to see the interest! I hope everyone who wants to participate is able to track down a copy of it. I've found a few more video stores around the country that carry it; Scarecrow in Seattle, Move Madness in Portland, and Four Star Video Heaven in Madison, for example. If anyone's worried about your subsciption DVD service not getting you a copy in time, there may be enough time to convince your local indie brick-and-mortar store to order a copy if they don't already have it. If anyone has any real horror stories trying to find the DVD, e-mail me and I may have a few more suggestions.
Count me in, of course. I love this post, btw, because it made me sit down and think, "Okay, you're not an academic. Check. You're not a critic. Check. OhmiGOD, You're a FESTIVAL JUNKIE!!"
Don't worry, Michael; you're not alone.
Sounds fun
Count me in
London Korean Links
I picked up the link to this from GreenCine, and it sounds like a blast. I love the film, personally, and it'll be cool to see it again and write about it. Cool idea!
Great! Welcome aboard!
Hey, more good news for Hong fans. Woman Is the Future of Man will be released on DVD March 6 from New Yorker Video.
Strange! What a fortuitous occasion! I'm maxed out for my filmlist in deliveries, and they accidentally sent me a Virgin Stripped Bare. Talk about a sign to see something!
If watching it inspires you to write something, I hope you'll join the Blog-a-Thon, squish!
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