Returning for its 15th season on CBC and CBC Gem, the public broadcaster’s Short Film Face Off this year features Baduk, the debut film from Halifax filmmaker Induk Lee. It joins another local filmmaker, Taylor Olson, whose film Second Wedding will also compete.
As you get older and go through your own experiences, you start to view your relationship with your parents differently. I wanted to make a short film that pays tribute to that idea. – filmmaker Induk Lee on her short film Baduk.
In the annual showcase to increase awareness of young filmmakers across Canada, Lee and Taylor are among nine emerging filmmakers vying for national exposure and a top prize of $30,000 provided by Telefilm Canada as voted by the viewing audience.
Not the first recognition for Lee’s Baduk, a quietly sweet film about a relationship between a mother and daughter, it also took home the award for Best Atlantic Short at this year’s Atlantic International Film Festival. And while she is grateful for the local recognition for her debut film, she is particularly excited to have more people see it through the CBC competition.
“It’s very special to have a broader Canadian audience be able to watch something I made,” says Lee.
In the five-minute Baduk, Lee explores the relationship between a mother and daughter through the Koren equivalent of the ancient Chinese game Go.
“As you get older and go through your own experiences, you start to view your relationship with your parents differently,” she says. “I wanted to make a short film that pays tribute to that idea.”
While not autobiographical, Lee used the emotional root of her relationship with her parents for inspiration. “I never played the game myself as a kid, but I always knew of it in Korean culture as a silent introspective kind of game, and that is kind of my vibe,” she says.
Despite not having played the game growing up, as research for her film Lee found herself at a Halifax coffee shop, where a local group of baduk enthusiasts taught her the fundamentals. “I knew some basic rules, but they helped me play a few rounds and teach me a few things,” she says.
Initially written about a relationship between a father and son, Lee’s pivot to a story about a daughter and mother came out of necessity.
“We started looking nationally to cast the film, but because of the pandemic, we had to narrow our search to local,” she explains. “I knew more Korean women in town and ended up organically rewriting the script to focus on a mother and daughter story, which turned out great because it was more personal to me.”
Immigrating from Korea to Atlantic Canada with her family at age seven, Lee spent most of her life growing up in Bedford. With interest in the arts from a young age, Lee’s desire to tell stories would eventually lead her to film.
“There was something about the vibrancy of film that I was drawn to,” she says. “I like film’s visual aesthetics and how it incorporates all kinds of other art and different artists. I really was drawn to the collaborative and dynamic spirit of filmmaking.”
Pursuing her career in filmmaking, Lee recently moved to Toronto, where she is currently working as second assistant art director on the CBS/Paramount+ spy thriller Rabbit Hole starring Kiefer Sutherland.
“I wanted to get to know the industry at a national level,” she says. “I’ve never lived elsewhere, so I also wanted that personal adventure.”
While gaining knowledge and experience on the set of Rabbit Hole, Lee also wants to continue with her own filmmaking.
“I would love to make another short film,” she says. “Mostly, I want to keep writing and practice directing to get better at it and make more stories.”
Lee’s Baduk will air on August 13 and Olson’s Second Wedding on August 27 as part of this year’s Short Film Face Off on both CBC and CBC Gem. The winner will be announced in the season finale on September 3.