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A FILM DIRECTED BY MIN SOOK LEE
PRODUCED BY ED BARREVELD, MIN SOOK LEE & ANITA LEE (NFB)

“This is a beautifully wrought film.” 
- Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun

"a touching exploration"
- Katie Clandy, AnE Vibe

“'Who is Korean?,'" the director wonders. This film is a gripping, and very moving, exploration of the answer.”
- Montreal Gazette

TIGER SPIRIT WINS THE DONALD BRITTAIN GEMINI AWARD
FOR BEST SOCIAL/ POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM

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SYNOPSIS

Korea is a divided nation. The psychic scar shared by millions of people, separated from their families during the Korean War in the 1950s, is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Here, along this infamous border, award-winning filmmaker Min Sook Lee sets out on a revelatory, emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people.

Tiger Spirit begins in the Korean foothills, where the filmmaker joins former TV videographer Lim Sun Nam in his obsessive quest to prove tigers still live in the DMZ’s swath of wilderness. A powerful symbol of resilience in Korean mythology, the tiger once roamed the peninsula but is thought extinct in the region. Lim believes finding the tiger will reconnect Koreans to their spirit and fuel the reunification train.

But a tiger’s stripes extend beyond its fur. Inspired by her desire to understand the country she left as a child when her family moved to Canada, Lee takes us deeper than symbols, asking the crucial question—how will the two Koreas be put back together?

We meet stoic elderly Koreans holding out for news of long lost relatives in the North. We encounter the fractured lives of younger defectors, including a woman who relives her harrowing escape story every day working as a tour guide at a war memorial site.

Crossing the DMZ into North Korea, we visit an inter-Korean economic project in Kaesong, the ancient capital. And we gain unprecedented access to state-sanctioned family reunions held at a high security “resort,” where we witness the Kim family’s heart-wrenching meeting with a relative they haven’t seen for 50 years.

An eloquent tale of longing and hope, Tiger Spirit is unforgettable portrait of Korea at a crossroads.

THE TEAM

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MIN SOOK LEE
Writer/Director

Min Sook Lee is a writer, broadcaster and an award winning documentary film director/producer.

In 2006 she released the short docu-poem Borderless, a film about undocumented workers in Canada. Borderless has screened internationally at festivals in Asia and North America. Her feature documentary, Hogtown: The Politics of Policing was awarded Best Feature-length Canadian Documentary at the 2005 Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival. Her first feature El Contrato, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and broadcast on TVO, was nominated for the Gemini award for Best Social/Political Documentary in 2005. El Contrato has screened at international festivals and was awarded the Best Documentary Award from the Ibero American Film Festival in 2003. Min Sook was also presented with the Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Award for El Contrato’s impact on the rights of migrant workers.

Min Sook has just released the feature length documentary Tiger Spirit, a reunification road trip through the two Koreas which premiers at Hot Docs 2008. In 2008 she will also release the documentary Badge of Pride, the story of queer cops in Canada.

ED BARREVELD

Producer

Storyline Entertainment CEO and Emmy Award-winning producer Ed Barreveld is one of Canada’s top independent documentary-film professionals. A hands-on producer with 35 years of experience in both financing and the field, Barreveld brings together Canadian and international storytellers, investors, and partners on documentaries that explore underexposed places and perspectives in society and culture.
 

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ANITA LEE
Producer (NFB)

Anita Lee is a drama and documentary producer whose work includes the international co-production Proteus, the Genie award-winning The Art of Woo and Dinner at the Edge, which won a Gemini award, the Chris Award for Best Performing Arts Film and garnered five Gemini nominations. Her experimental short film, A Hunter Called Memory, screened at TIFF, Sundance, Clermont-Ferrand and the Sheffield Documentary Festival. Since joining the NFB, Lee spear-headed the NFB’s first interactive drama Late Fragment in collaboration with the Canadian Film Centre.

RICARDO ACOSTA
Editor

Ricardo Acosta immigrated to Canada from his native Cuba in 1993.  Before coming to Toronto, he studied and worked with the world renowned Cuban Film Institute in Havana.  For the past twelve years Ricardo has edited both documentary and dramatic films, which have been shown around the world.

His outstanding work has contributed to the making of several award-winning films including: Shooting Indians, A Journey With Jeffrey Thomas directed by Ali Kazimi (Genie Award nomination for Best Short Documentary); Unbound directed by Claudia Morgado (Berlin Film Festival Award for Best Short Film); Spirits of Havana produced by the NFB (Genie Award nomination for Best Documentary); The Take directed by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (Gemini nomination for The Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program & for Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series); and Runaway Groom directed by Ali Kazimi (Gemini Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program).

Ricardo was chosen to be a fellow by the Sundance Institute in 2006 for the Documentary Film Editing and Story Laboratory.

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STAN BARUA CSC
Director of Photography

An honors graduate of the renowned Polish National Film School’s MA in Cinematography program, Stan’s artistic background includes traditional African and classical European musical training and performance, as well as graphic and studio art. He is fluent in English, Swahili and Polish. Stan Barua has woven his unusual perspective into a refined world of enigmatic elegance and affected realism - one without stylistic limits

His credits include Baba’s House (Best Canadian Short Drama, Golden Sheaf Award for Cinematography, Eastman Kodak Cinematography Award, Gold Special Jury Award, Gemini nominations for Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series and for Best Short Drama), Rain (Best Atlantic Canada Short Drama), Paliposahauliwa (Warsaw Terra Award for Best Cinematography), Raisin’ Kane (Best Canadian Documentary, HBO Documentary Prize), Journey to Justice (Best Documentary Reel Black Awards, Gemini nomination for Best History Documentary), Film Club (Gemini Canada Award), and The TO Variety Show (Gemini nominations for Best Photography in a Variety Program or Series and for Best Comedy, Variety or Arts Program or Series).

MIKE GRIPPO CSC
Director of Photography

Michael Grippo is an award winning Toronto based freelance Director of Photography with 25 years experience worldwide.  He is trilingual and a specialist in: documentaries, commercials, dramatic recreations and broadcast television.  Accustomed to extensive travel under extreme conditions, he has witnessed and recorded over 100 network documentaries on five continents.

He has shot on location in North America, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Kenya, Somalia, East and West Germany, Poland, Hungary, France, Holland, Italy, England, Ireland, South Korea, Singapore, China, Viet Nam, Japan, Austria, the Philippines, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and The West Bank, India, The Balkans, Haiti, Russia and the High Arctic.

Documentaries he has worked on include two Storyline Entertainment productions: Aftermath: The Remnants of War and Hitler’s Canadians.  He has shot all the documentary films of director Shelley Saywell, including: A Child’s Century of War (shortlisted for an Academy Award), Crimes of Honour (Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, Columbus Int’l Film Festival Chris Award, Gemini Donald Britain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program).  He’s also shot House Calls - NFB (Gemini Donald Britain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program) and was awarded a Gemini for Best Cinematography on Faith Without Fear.

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MARK ELLAM
Director of Photography

Over a dozen years of feature documentary filmmaking, Mark Ellam has brought his unique cinematic vision to reality.  Highlights include THE TAKE by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (American Film Institute  best feature documentary), BIG SUGAR (Prix Gemeaux & Golden Sheaf Award for best documentary – going undercover to shoot Haitian plantation workers suffering under conditions of slavery), EMPZ 4 LIFE (Allan King's film on Black youth in a high-risk community - nominated for both Best Cinematography and the Donald Brittain Award at the Gemini Awards of 2007), A Promise To The Dead (Peter Raymont's film shortlisted for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary)  and SECURE FREEDOM (Alexandre Trudeau's CTV doc about Security Certificates and Canada's stance on the War on Terror).   Recent large-scale recreations have included Galafilm's THE GREAT WAR, an epic period docu-drama for the CBC, and Barna Alper's MEDAK POCKET, reenacting Canada's peacekeeping battles in Croatia.

Currently, Mark is associate director and cinematographer on The Basement Tapes: the first open source documentary produced for theatrical release by the National Film Board of Canada, the Doc Channel and EYESTEELFILM.

MARK KORVEN
Composer

Since scoring his first film I've Heard the Mermaid's Singing directed by Patricia Rozema in 1987, Mark Korven has become one of Canada’s most in demand and unique film composers. He has been nominated for 8 Genies and 11 Geminis. He won a Genie for Curtis’s Charm directed by John L’Ecuyer and a Gemini for A Scattering of Seeds,  as well as 2 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival awards.

He has scored 9 feature films including the science fiction thriller Cube, and many well known documentaries including the devasting account of the Rwandan genocide Shake Hands with the Devil: the Journey of Romeo Dallaire.

Recent work includes the series Dark Years produced by Barna Alper, and the feature length documentary The Journey of Ariel Dorfman and the CBC drama series The Border, both produced by White Pine Pictures.

Mark is also a well known multi-instrumentalist, recording with instruments from around the world such as the Armenian Duduk, the Indian Sarangi, and the Swedish Nyckelharpa.

See www.markkorven.com for sound and video clips.

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SANJAY MEHTA
Location Sound Recordist

Sanjay Mehta started his career in recording sound at the age of 15 working for an Oscar winning Sound Recordist on feature films. Since then his love of sound and travelling has taken him from the sound stages of Toronto to the far corners of the planet working on
documentary films. He has won Gemini awards for his work on Primitive Entertainment's " McLuhan's Wake" and Rhombus Media's " Beethoven's Hair."  Recent travels have taken him to DPRK (North Korea) , and the Russian Far East working on Storyline Entertainment's "Tiger Spirit."

When not calibrating his ears listening to vinyl records, Sanjay can be found printing photos in the darkroom.

JOOHYUN KWON
Production Manager

Joohyun Kwon immigrated from Korea and makes documentaries about the Korean Community in Toronto.

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REVIEWS

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FESTIVALS & AWARDS

Gemini Award - Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/ Political Documentary Program (2009)

History Makers Award Nomination - Best Current Affairs Production (2010)

Honorable Mention - Columbus International Film & Video Festival (2009)

CNEX Documentary Film Festival (Taipei City, Nov 2010)
UN Association Travelling Film Festival (Houston, Nov 2009)

Guelph Festival of Moving Media (Nov 2009)

DMZ Docs (Paju City, Korea, Oct 2009)

Document 7 International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Glasgow, Oct 2009)

St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (Oct 2009)  

DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival (Oct 2009)

San Diego Asian Film Festival (Oct 2009)

Asian Women’s Film Festival (Berlin, Oct 2009)

TriContinental Film Festival (South Africa, Sep 2009)

Women Make Movies Film Festival (San Francisco, Aug 2009)

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 2009)
finalist, Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary

OXDOX International Documentary Film Festival (Oxford, Apr 2009)

ReFrame: Peterborough International Film Festival (Jan 2009)

Whistler Film Festival (Dec 2008)

Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (Nov 2008)

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Nov 2008)

UN Association Film Festival (Stanford U, Oct 2008)

Calgary International Film Festival (Sep 2008)

Hot Docs International Documentary Festival (Toronto, Apr 2008)

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Produced by Storyline Entertainment in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada in Association with History Television and with the Participation of the Canadian Television Fund, created by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Cable Industry, Rogers Documentary Fund and The Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit.