5 Questions: Hyun Lee

Completed in mid 2017, ASIAN GIRLS had its world premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in March 2018. She is currently developing her debut feature film.

You can watch ‘ASIAN GIRLS’ at MIFF on the 10th August at 9pm, or 17th August at 11:30pm.

Hyun Lee is a writer, director and photographer based in Sydney. She is the writer and director of ASIAN GIRLS, a short film which was a recipient of the Screen NSW: Emerging Filmmakers’ Fund.

No. 1

‘Food and other banalities of daily life can evoke fear as long as there is an element of foreignness and unfamiliarity’ - where did this concept spring from? What drove you to create this film?
I’m not sure where exactly it came from but at the time of writing, I was thinking a lot about how we have this idea that racism precipitates from racists, who are these evil people, who are backwards and stupid. I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Racism can come from a very basic fear evoked by very basic differences, like the kinds of food people like to eat and the different ways people like to work and spend their money. In this sense, fear is a much more universal and primal instinct.

No. 2

I’m intrigued by the choice to name the main character ‘Chan’, which coincides with the actor’s own name—Rainbow Chan. Did you write the part specifically for Rainbow?
I didn’t write the part for Rainbow - the character’s name is Chan because its the most common surname in China. The other character is Yamada, the most common surname in Japan. They’re the faceless “John Smith”s of their respective countries. I think it’s a great coincidence that Rainbow’s last name happens to be Chan!


You’re writing into a space which often has little to no Asian-Australian representation. Is this something that drives you?

Not particularly—I don’t think that’s my style, though there are plenty of Asian-Australians who do make that sort of work and they do it very well!


What are some films we should be watching/some filmmakers we should be following?

I think everyone should make an effort to see old films and films that aren’t on Netflix! Mark Cousins made a doco series called The Story of Film which is a great place to start. Its online now at SBS On Demand.


What are your top 5 picks for MIFF?

  1. Aga
  2. Ash is the Purest White
  3. Angels Wear White
  4. An Elephant Sitting Still
  5. Peoples’ Republic of Desire

Leah McIntosh