In 2008's Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a man in transition. His wife has recently passed away and his children would prefer he live in a senior citizens' home. A Korean War vet, Kowalski still holds prejudices toward Asians despite his increasingly diversified Michigan neighborhood. After a local teen (played by Bee Vang) attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino in an act of gang initiation, he sets out to reform the youth. But of course things aren't that simple. Drawn closer into his neighbors' dilemma, he is forced to reevaluate his past and his prejudices. This Friday the U of M will host a panel talk featuring Hmong actors from the film, including star Bee Vang; castmates Ahney Her, Doua Moua, and Elvis Thao; and Cedric Lee, who served as a production assistant and cultural consultant. They will discuss their experience making the movie and their feelings about the finished product. Louisa Schein, an anthropology professor at Rutgers University specializing in Hmong studies and Hmong media, moderates the talk.
Fri., Feb. 20, 4:30 p.m., 2009