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The Korean War is getting the feature film treatment with A Bitter Front, a indie war drama from writer-director Ryan Huang.
Winter State Entertainment, the Minnesota-based banner by Hamid and Camille Torabpour and Dr. Mark Smith, is behind the project.
Inspired by real events, Bitter Front will follow combat surgeon Sergio Passaro, who is deployed to a remote UN position in North Korea in November 1950. He finds himself at the Chosin Reservoir, where outnumbered Marines face annihilation at the hands of thousands of Chinese soldiers. In this brutal environment, where subzero temperatures cause blood and vials of morphine to freeze solid, Passaro must treat a torrent of casualties on the front lines without becoming one himself.
The plan is to shoot the film in winter 2020 in Minnesota, which, with its own extreme winters, will sub for the Chosin Reservoir. Casting is underway.
Media focus on Korea, both North and South, is currently heavy due to trade and military concerns. However, Huang, an alum from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with several award-winning shorts under him, wants his movie to elevate the sacrifices many made in a war that has been largely overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War, conflicts that sandwiched the 1950s fight.
“Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I had the opportunity to get to know several local Korean War veterans who shared their stories with me,” Huang said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The common thread to their recollections, which had a profound impact on me, was how they all felt that their experiences and sacrifices have gradually been overlooked and forgotten along with the war itself. So as a history enthusiast and filmmaker, I feel a desire and responsibility to share their story — and its inherent drama — with a wider audience. The Battle of Chosin is a perfect microcosm of the entire conflict, a chance for us to tell the stories of the guys on both sides who never made it home.”
Stated Hamid Torabpour: “The Korean War is a story overdue for the big screen. It’s intensely relevant to our current events, and it’s incumbent upon us to understand the complex history of this region. To tell stories that have been overlooked is exciting as a filmmaker. Topping it off with being able to bring films to our home state with local filmmakers and talent is amazing.”
Huang’s debut feature, The Root of Evil, was named best student film at the 2014 Catalina Film Festival. His short The Woman in the Mirror, a biopic on street photographer Vivian Maier, screened at the 21st Sonoma International Film Festival, while his sci-fi drama Continuum, co-directed by Justin Chien, won best short film honors at the 2018 Chinese American Film Festival.
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