I feel very proud that a New Zealand film, Kimbap, written and produced by Sapna Samant and directed by Alex Kyo Won Lee, won Best in Show and the Audience Choice Award for the best film by a male director at the Bluestocking Film Series this year and then travelled with the Bluestocking selection to the LadyBug Festival in Sweden. This all feels special, because Bluestocking is the influential showcase for provocative, well-produced short fictional films featuring complex female protagonists – and the only film event in the world to require female protagonists. Submissions must also pass the Bechdel Test and Bluestocking is the first United States film event to receive Sweden’s A-Rating, which informs consumers that films pass the test.
Best in Show judge, Thuc Doan Nguyen from The Bitch Pack, which advocates better representation of women ‘on the page’, said this about Kimbap–
I chose the film because of the excellent acting, the relationship between mother and daughter (also the one between the two children), and the handling of racial and cultural differences as subject matter. All the elements came together well and were refreshing to me.Kimbap’s writer and producer is Sapna Samant, of Holy Cow Media, which she set up in 2006 to tell stories across all media. She produced The Asian Radio Show, a contemporary and irreverent show about the Asian diaspora in New Zealand from 2008-2012, the only such show on commercial radio. Sapna was a freelance producer for Radio New Zealand before that, and on the WIFT Auckland board for two terms. She also won second prize in Auckland University’s short story competition in 2013.
Kimbap is about a migrant family and how they make their place in New Zealand through food and love. Kimbap is Korean sushi. It also symbolises inclusion.
|Broadcaster Sapna, with Liyen Chong|
Where did the idea for Kimbap come from?
I was inspired by a true event in Christchurch, New Zealand. A Korean family, a mother and her two daughters, committed suicide and one of the issues that came out of the discourse after was the loneliness and isolation of non-English speaking migrants to New Zealand. I felt great empathy with this family. Here I was, someone who spoke fluent English, and yet I had experienced isolation and loneliness as a migrant to New Zealand. The other issue I learned was the concept of the goose family. These are families where the father lives and works in Korea while the wife and children migrate to an English speaking country for the sake of the children's education. Of course such distances would compound the alienation of any migrant. However I wanted to tell a sweet, simple tale rather than a dark, desolate one which many New Zealand films are. For, if a migrant comes into a host society and feels an outsider, there are also many opportunities to come out on top of the situation in a positive way.