FEBRUARY 1, 2023
CAN | 12 minutes | 2022
Drama short film directed by Peter CS Lee
Starring Ian H.W Kim, Stanley Jung, Patrick Li
For copyright purposes, the film requires a password for viewing.
Cradling his newborn son in his home, Andrew is confronted by his father causing him to relive moments of trauma from his upbringing. Revisiting cruel lessons from his teenage years on avoiding cigarettes, respecting elders and controlling emotions, Andrew questions his ability to raise his own son.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What was the inspiration behind the story for Spotlight?
Peter CS Lee: Spotlight is an incredibly personal story to me. The vignettes are inspired by personal experiences as well as conversations with some of my friends and family. I first got the image of Andrew, holding his newborn baby, confronted by his father in a surreal moonlit room. From there, the experiences started flowing.
CAF: What were some of the challenges you faced during production?
Lee: This film was created during a time of the pandemic when medium-sized productions could run; however, strict protocols were still in place. I made the decision early on to direct and DoP the film as I am primarily a cinematographer. The difficulty of this decision became apparent when my AD would tell me I needed to cut shots as we were losing time. Making critical decisions about coverage and blocking in a time crunch was incredibly difficult without having someone to bounce off of. Fortunately, I had an incredible team who were offering up suggestions that I was happy to take and so we got solid coverage and blocking for a majority of the scenes. It was a valuable experience doing the direction and cinematography but I would probably not try it again willingly.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching your film?
Lee: Through creating Spotlight, I hoped to explore generational trauma in an Asian-North American context as it is passed from father to son. I think while the ending could be looked at as extremely hopeless, I hoped that audiences would see how Andrew is able to acknowledge his own trauma, have sympathy for his family and find the love that exists between him and his family despite the chasms of pain that comes with it. I hoped audiences – especially Asian audiences – will be able to connect with this film and find some catharsis through knowing they’re not alone.
CAF: Have you been working on anything new?
Lee: I’ve just finished an ultrashort film for the Mighty Asian Movie-Making contest this year which I co-wrote and directed with my sister. I think I’ll personally be taking a break from writing my own narrative pieces; however, I’ve got some music video treatments I’m starting to write! I’ve been shooting a lot of work I’m extremely proud of which you can find on my website.
The interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Spotlight is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.
Director, Writer, Cinematographer: Peter CS Lee
Producers: Bianca Rose Cheung, Ayana Madi
More from Peter CS Lee: Food From Ah Lan