The Apology by Canadian filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung

by M. L. Lee, 22/03/2017


In The Apology, Toronto-based director Tiffany Hsiung follows the story of three of former comfort women -now grandmothers - as they fight for a formal apology, struggle with internalized shame, open up to their families for the first time and try to find peace.

During World War II, 200,000 girls were taken from their families in China, South Korea and the Phillipines and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army. Called “comfort women,” only a third survived the war, but the horrors of their experience took an unimaginable mental and physical toll. Some were as young as 11, enslaved in local brothels and raped multiple times a day by soldiers; many were injected with toxic STI medication or had pregnancies forcibly terminated.

Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations,” the three “grandmothers”– Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.

When asked how she came to take on this project, Tiffany Hsiung explained "I got invited by a study tour called Alpha Education in 2009, which was designed to teach about the atrocities in WW2 to North American educators: I was there to document the tour. But I wound up learning so many things I never knew about [like about comfort women]. The testimonies of these grandmothers blew me away. Not only is it beyond shocking that they went through this, but they still have to travel and testify and speak in front of so many strangers. Their message was, “Please, just believe me.” From that trip, I wanted to get to know them and share their story. It took five or six years, taking time getting to know them. The things we explore are stories you barely get to see and hear about. So often we don’t get to sit with the aftermath of history and see what the impacts really are: it’s a character driven story, focused on the human spirit and personal journeys.

"These grandmothers aren’t just survivors, they’re heroes. It’s a topic that’s very timely, and very timeless."

The Apology is now playing in 66 CGV theatres across Korea*
*24 March K4E Note: Unfortunately we've noted that the theatres in Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Seoul are no longer screening the film.. 
Watch the trailer.
Watch comments by Tiffany Hsiung.

 

 

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