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The House of Suh


USA Director: Iris K. Shim Producer: Gerry Kim


Cinematographers: Damon Hennessey, Daniel Kanes Editor: Iris K. Shim


Cast: Andrew Suh, Byung Won Suh, Kevin Koron, Seung Ja, Geung Goo Lee, Kristine Storm


2010/color/94 min.


IRIS K. SHIM Iris K. Shim graduated from the University of Illinois–Chicago in 2004 with a BA in psychology. While living in Los Angeles, Shim worked on a docu- mentary with Academy Award winner Jessica Yu before returning to Chicago to shoot her first short documentary. The House of Suh is the full-length version of that effort, Of Kin and Kind.


Iris K. Shim makes her feature documentary debut with this profile of Andrew Suh, who is serving a 100-year prison sentence for murder in Illinois. His older sister Catherine is serving time for the same crime in a nearby facility. A made-for-television movie based on the Suhs’ story, Bad to the Bone, employed Caucasian characters to sensationalize the crime; but Shim, who has a degree in psychology, expands upon her earlier short documentary, Of Kin and Kind, to strip away its most lurid aspects and probe deeply into issues of heritage and family dynamics.


The 1993 murder of Catherine’s boyfriend, Robert O’Dubaine, absorbed Chicago newshounds for more than two years—not least for the morbid suc- cession of sorrows preceding it. The Suh family had immigrated to the United States from Korea when Andrew and Catherine were little, after the accidental death of an older brother. By Andrew’s adolescence, their father had died of cancer and their mother had been murdered at her dry cleaning store in an unsolved crime. Appointed Andrew’s guardian, Catherine quickly moved into their parents’ bedroom with O’Dubaine and enrolled her sibling at a prestigious parochial school, molding him into the popular high achiever that he became.


But the intelligent and articulate 19-year-old’s promising future came to a crash- ing halt when he confessed to shooting O’Dubaine twice in the head, spurred on by Catherine’s claim that her boyfriend had murdered their mother and that Andrew was honor-bound to avenge her death. He ponders his decisions from his jail cell, as friends and relatives share their perspectives on camera. Catherine, for her part, has had no contact with her brother since her conviction (or with Shim, whose interview requests she has refused).


—JULIET SHERWOOD In cooperation with Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership


90


DOCUMENTARY


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