Josh Kim: Success Story


(Honolulu, Oct. 1, 2015) — Josh Kim’s debut feature film, “How to Win at Checkers [Every Time]” has been selected by the country of Thailand to be its official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 88th Annual Academy Awards. Kim developed the film as a participant in the 2013 Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH) Writers Accelerator. The screenplay is based on the short stories titled, “At the Café Lovely” and “Draft Day,” from the U.S. bestselling book, Sightseeing, by Rattawut Lapcharoensap.

The Thai government’s selection of the film is particularly notable because Kim is not Thai, but a Korean American born in Texas. The film, about an orphaned 11-year-old Thai boy who learns to play the game of life to do whatever it takes to change his fate, touches upon rites of passage, income inequality, LGBT and civic injustice issues. Kim moved to Thailand for intensive language training so he could translate the story and direct the actors in Thai. The cast and crew are primarily Thai.

Five to 10 films will be selected from the more than 100 foreign country submissions, with an announcement expected in mid to late January. The winner will be announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28, 2016.

“We are absolutely thrilled that a participant in our very first Creative Lab Hawaii Writers Accelerator program has an opportunity to participate in the Academy Awards process. It speaks volumes about our program and mentors, ” said Georja Skinner, CID’s chief officer. “We are equally thrilled for Josh, who persevered in his goal to make this film despite the many challenges he faced prior to coming to Hawaii.”

“Josh’s screenplay appealed to our program’s sensibilities because it dealt with real world issues impacting individuals and cultures across the world. The commitment to his project and the craft of filmmaking is incredibly inspiring, and his resilience and unwavering belief in the story drew an incredibly talented cast, crew and production team who helped him make the film,” said Michael Andres Palmieri, an industry veteran who is the executive director of CLH.

Hawaii-based producer, Chris Lee, and 2014 CLH Writers Accelerator participant, Edward Gunawan, and Anocha Mai Suwichakompong share producing credits.

Kim competed with 60 other individuals for one of the 11 spots in Hawaii’s inaugural CLH Writers Accelerator, a part of the Creative Industries Division (CID) at the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“How to Win at Checkers [Every Time],” along with CLH 2013 finalists Walter Dods III, Chris McKinney, Tajamika Paxton, Holly Sereni and Diana Mercer and 2014 finalists Kristian House, Kaveh Karden and Deja Cresencia Bernhardt have established CLH’s reputation on an international level for its exceptional program, mentoring and access to industry leaders eager to nurture transmedia storytellers.

The film has amassed an impressive list of accolades including premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival and awards at the Los Angels Pacific Film Festival, Film Out Sand Diego LGBT Film Festival, Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival, Bangkok LGBT Film Festival, Long Beach QFilm Festival among several others.

About Hawaii Creative Lab Hawaii: Part of the State of Hawaii’s HI Growth Initiative, Creative Lab Hawaii was founded in 2012 by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s Creative Industries Division (CID) to accelerate the growth of Hawaii’s creative entrepreneurs through immersive, hands-on training in motion pictures, television, screenwriting, broadband, new media, interactive/technology, music and design/fashion. Participants compete to enter the year-round mentoring programs designed to accelerate access to decision makers, investment and distribution in all aspects of the creative media content industry. Creative Lab Hawaii is comprised of three program components: 1) Immersive Programs; 2) Ideation Workshops; and 3) Public Keynotes.

About Josh Kim: A Korean American filmmaker currently based in Asia, Josh Kim, 34, started production as an intern at NPR in Washington, D.C., and later moved to CNN in Hong Kong. In 2010, he worked as associate producer on the Korean remake of John Woo’s, “A Better Tomorrow,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2010. He has since directed videos for Google, UEFA and Elite Models. Recently, he founded a microdocumentary web-series project called Google Glass Diaries, which has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company. Visit Josh Kim’s website here.

Trailer for How To Win at Checkers (Every Time):