Interview with Filmmaker Christopher H.K. Lee (The Last Tear)

Christopher’s short film, THE LAST TEAR, played at the Documentary Short Film Festival in May 2016.

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Interview with Christopher H.K. Lee:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher H.K. Lee: I’ve heard about the topic “comfort women” many times in the news, media, books, newspapers, etc. but I never had my interest in the subject until we began our research with the students about a possibility of putting together a documentary. We traveled thousands of miles to visit the actual historical locations and had the opportunities to meet with the ladies still alive and be witnesses of the scars left on their bodies and souls. Some were supported by the political platform and some were a part of an organizational base trying to make their voice heard which is unknown to the rest of the world. They are becoming weaker day by day and we believe that such traces of painful memories and tragic stories cannot be restored but by remembering them and embracing them, we will provide them the sense of closure.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

CHKL: This is a collaboration project with US-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins University as an academic research. The film nearly took 18 month of research and preparation. The film and post-production took nine month.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

CHKL: Healing and Closure

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

CHKL: The subject and issues were very sensitive politically and emotionally to many. The ladies we interviewed were in the 90s and we needed to consider for their health issues while respecting their voices and feelings.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

CHKL: I couldn’t make out what the first lady (Korean-American) was saying. I am not sure if she understands to implication of our actor and dancer in the movie. They were the voice and expression for the lady (the survivor) in the film. What we presented to you at the film festival is a short 11 minute version. Our full version which is 53 minutes long has more facts and compelling stories with plenty of emotions of our main character that was missing in the short version.

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

CHKL: We specially edited for a short version to submitted to many film festivals as possible. Our film’s purpose is to share the emotions of the past and to connect our generations in a more personal and humanistic way. Through understanding the faults of the past, we allow them to never be erased, and prevent them from happening again.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

CHKL: The Truman Show. This is one of the most inventive movie in memory.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

CHKL: As part of our Fading Away documentary series I am currently working on several documentaries to preserve our culture and history. I am also writing a feature film based on the story inspired by a documentary film I did earlier.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film: 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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