New York, N.Y. – June 1, 2023 – POV, America’s longest running non-fiction series, takes an unvarnished look at a family’s intergenerational relationships in director So Yun Um’s moving debut feature film Liquor Store Dreams. Co-Produced by Um and Eddie Kim, the autobiographical documentary follows two Korean American children of liquor store owners in Los Angeles who must reconcile their own dreams with those of their immigrant parents. Along the way, they confront the complex legacies of LA's racial landscape, including the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins and the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police beating of Rodney King, while engaged in current struggles for social and economic justice.
Liquor Store Dreams, a co-presentation with The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), makes its national broadcast premiere on POV Monday, July 10, 2023 at 10pmET/9C (check local listings) and will be available to stream without PBS Passport membership until October 8, 2023 at pbs.org, and thePBS App. In addition to standard closed captioning for the film, POV, in partnership with audio description serviceDiCapta, provides real time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities.
Liquor Store Dreams introduces viewers to So and her childhood friend Danny Park, both “liquor store babies,” first-generation American children born to Korean immigrant parents who made the best of limited opportunities by running liquor stores in Black and Brown communities in Los Angeles. While having great respect for their parent’s sacrifices, they are determined to remain true to their aspirations and contribute to their vibrant, evolving neighborhood. So explores her dreams of a filmmaking career, which is a mystery to her bemused but supportive father Hae who wants her to get married and have children. After the death of his father, Danny returns from a dream job at Nike to help his mother Mae run her store in LA’s Skid Row, reimagining it as a convenience store providing healthy food options to the community. Danny, who once had very different dreams for himself, is committed to building bridges between Korean-Black relationships to heal the wounds of the past.
Director So Yun Um juxtaposes the two families' struggles with the history of how so many Koreans came to own liquor stores in LA, and how that contributed to racial tensions. She includes the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins in a Korean convenience store, the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police brutality against Rodney King and ensuing looting of Korean businesses. Harlins’ killer, Soon Ja Du, was convicted of manslaughter but sentenced to no prison time. The LAPD officers captured on video severely beating King were acquitted.
The raw, intensely personal documentary follows the four protagonists as they examine the challenges of race, culture and identity to put a modern take on the immigrant experience in America.
“I made Liquor Store Dreams because I saw a void in the Korean perspective when it came to Black and Korean relations, tracing back to the ’92 LA Uprising to the Black Lives Matter movement,” said So Yun Um, director of Liquor Store Dreams. “I wanted to create a film that was altogether personal, educational, and a conversation-starter. It means the world to the entire film team that the film will air on POV. POV has always prioritized uplifting marginalized voices and powerful personal stories and we are honored that we are part of this upcoming season’s line-up.”
"So's first feature gives a fresh perspective on generational and racial divides," said Chris White, Executive Director, American Documentary. "Liquor Store Dreams ambitiously attempts to reckon with LA's troubling Black and Korean American past inviting members of those communities to find common ground. After watching the documentary, we hope our viewers have a better understanding of the nuances impacting the city's community relations."
Liquor Store Dreams made its World Premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, its European Premiere at the BFI London Film Festival 2022, and its International Premiere at the 27th Busan International Film Festival. The film was an official selection of the CAAMFest 2023 (Honorable Mention for Documentary Feature), Toronto International Film Festival - Next Wave 2023, One World 2023 International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2023 (Winner, Documentary Audience Award), Palm Springs International Film Festival 2023 (Local Jury Award), Florida Film Festival 2023, Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2023 (Winner, Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature), Diaspora Film Festival 2023 in Incheon, Korea, and 2022 San Diego Asian Film Festival (Winner, Emerging Filmmaker Award), to name a few.
Liquor Store Dreams is produced by Liquor Store Dreams, LLC and is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). So Yun Um is the director, a producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer. Eddie Kim is a producer, Laura Choi and Angela Park are the co-producers. Christina Sun Kim is a screenwriter and editor, and Sal Gabriel is the composer. The executive producers are Diane Quon, Daniel J. Chalfen, Bearcat Content, Tanuj Chopra, and Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary | POV.
Download photos here.
Liquor Store Dreams
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematographer: So Yun Um
Producer: Eddie Kim
Co-Producers: Laura Choi, Angela Park
Screenwriter: Christina Sun Kim
Cinematographer: Dawn Shim
Editor: Christina Sun Kim
Composer: Sal Gabriel
Executive Producers: Diane Quon, Daniel J. Chalfen, Bearcat Content, Tanuj Chopra, Erika Dilday and Chris White
Consulting Producer: Nanfu Wang
Cast: So Yun Um, Hae Sup Um, Danny Park, May Park, Mark Burton
Languages: English, Korean
About the Filmmakers
So Yun Um, Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Cinematographer, Liquor Store Dreams
So Yun Um is a Korean American Director and Producer born and based in Los Angeles. As a filmmaker, she explores intimate and challenging stories of marginalized people with piercing humanity, and a poignant editing style. Her directorial debut documentary feature film,Liquor Store Dreams, about second generation Korean American children of Liquor Store owners in the LA area, made its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. Her work has screened at the Busan International Film Festival, BFI London, TIFF-Next Wave and more. Currently, So is a 2023 Wyncote Fellow and 2022-2023 BAFTA Breakthrough USA participant. She is an alumnus of the 2021 CAAM Fellowship, Armed with a Camera Fellowship by Visual Communication, recipient of the Sundance Uprise Grant and a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee.
Eddie Kim, Producer, Liquor Store Dreams
Eddie Kim is a Filmmaker, Creator, and Writer based in Los Angeles, and he is a believer in creating stories that amplify underserved voices. Eddie has deep experience in producing original content for streaming platforms and digital media. His work has been featured on The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The View, Billboard, Hypebeast, and more. In partnership with the Executive Producer of The Office, Eddie has directed and produced multiple docu-series exploring the lives of young Asian Americans in Los Angeles and Orange County. His work has been nominated for a Streamy Award for Best Reality Docu-series. Most recently, Eddie was a Supervising Creative Producer at Spotify where he was charged to create original content for video and audio with rising artists, top stars, and podcast creators. His work there has been Webby nominated with Top Five in Category. He is also a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grantee as the Producer of the feature length documentary, Liquor Store Dreams, which has premiered at numerous film festivals including Tribeca, BFI London, Busan, Toronto, and more.
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise, Minding The Gap and Not Going Quietly, and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.
POV films and projects have won 46 Emmy Awards, 27 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirm that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.
About American Documentary, Inc.
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Open Society Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Park Foundation, and Perspective Fund. Additional funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Chasing the Dream and Peril and Promise public media initiatives of The WNET Group, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.
Dicapta Corporation is a communications technology company focused on making media accessible for people with visual and hearing disabilities. It has been offering high quality audio description, captioning, and language customization services since 2004. Dicapta has served the TV industry, media companies, educational institutions, and variety of organizations in making communications accessible to everyone. Dicapta has also been funded by the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Health and Human Services to work in the creation of accessibility assets and the development of technology to improve access to media for people with sensory disabilities.
All4Access is a global repository that stores media accessibility assets such as captions, audio description, and American Sign language. It simplifies the way assets are shared and used while protecting the rights of media creators. All4Access is a technology created by Dicapta and the Universidad Carlos II de Madrid, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.