DisOrient Film Festival: The House of Suh

Eugene, OR– The DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon opened on April 29th for the sixth edition, and Goh Nakamura and I are attending to show “Surrogate Valentine.” It’s my third time attending the festival, and it’s fun visiting with old friends and making some new ones. I’ve also been able to catch up on some movies!

The Centerpiece screening this year was “The House of Suh,” a gripping documentary produced and directed by Iris Shim.

The film tells the story of Andrew Suh, who is currently serving a 100 year sentence for murdering his sister’s fiancee in a much publicized case that scandalized Chicago in the mid 1990′s. Through extraordinary interviews with Andrew, his relatives, and even the brother of victim Robert O’Dubaine, Shim deconstructs the crime and explores the fractured family relationships that may have shaped Andrews eventual transformation into a murderer.

Andrew’s sister Catherine Suh does not appear on camera but haunts every frame of the film. The method by which she convinced her brother to murder Robert O’Dubaine is not revealed until the final third of the film, and I wouldn’t dare talk about it here…but I was struck by the fact that Andrew Suh still seems convinced that his sister would never lie to him.

I was also very moved and fascinated by the appearance of Kevin Koron, the victim’s brother. The director mentioned in the Q & A that Koron’s participation in the film was understandably met with great resistance by the rest of the victim’s family, but his personal testimony is crucial to establishing who Robert O’Dubaine was. The portrait that emerges, while secondary to the film’s overall focus on the Suh family, is sad and undeniably moving.

“The House of Suh” has been acquired by MSNBC FIlms and will be broadcast later this year in a truncated 44-minute version. See the 90 minute version if possible, but the story is worth watching in any available format.

\”The House of Suh\” Trailer