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Award-Winning Alumni Filmmaker Visits PUC

Eirene-Gin Nakamura, March 31, 2011
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Film students at Pacific Union College felt a certain sense of pride as PUC alum Paul Kim, ’04, showcased his knowledge and experience in documentary filmmaking in a special presentation hosted by the visual arts department on Friday, March 11. The award-winning senior producer on the Adventist Media Productions team gave a captivating discussion-based lecture on the marriage of entertainment and social values involved in the making of documentaries.

“It was incredible to see how much he knows about his craft,” said senior film and photography major Adriel Morelli. “He…instilled a sense of hope in the students to one day lock in on something worthwhile.”

Kim’s short but substantial experience in his field is impressive. After graduating with a theology degree from PUC, Kim worked as a youth pastor until he discovered his passion for social media. He earned his M.F.A. at American University in Washington, D.C., and quickly produced several films in conjunction with fellow young Adventist activists. One of his projects resulted in a film called Unto the Ends, about a young missionary couple, which debuted in 2005 at the General Conference Session of the Adventist World Church in St. Louis, Missouri. His subsequent documentary, A Place To Belong, about two boys with Asperger’s syndrome, received the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle award for Best Student Documentary.

It was at the 2005 World Church session that Alexander Carpenter, a history and film professor at PUC, first encountered Kim’s work. “It was just amazing,” said Carpenter, who reviewed the film in the Seventh-day Adventist journal Spectrum. “I’ve been a fan ever since.”

So, when it came time to choose the speaker whose work would be the most beneficial to his students, Carpenter knew the perfect candidate.

Kim took several approaches in conducting his presentation to effectively portray documentary filmmaking. To demonstrate the technical aspect of filmmaking, he brought equipment from the Adventist Media Center and showed the students what sort of physical work is associated with the craft. He then led a profound discussion about the true nature of documentaries, challenging the students to reassess their preconceived notions about documentary filmmaking. Finally, he connected social values and documentaries and showed his favorite 22-minute Polish documentary, which Carpenter candidly described as “brutal.”

“I think [Kim] challenged them to rethink their assumptions about what film does,” said Carpenter. “Is it just about entertainment or can you have these stories told that transcend this world?”