Hannah, a recently divorced art historian has decided to downsize. She is selling the house in the country that she has lived in for 18 years. Her adopted daughter Rose is helping her pack up the house. But Rose, to her mother’s dismay, resists cleaning out her own room, despite the fact that she left the house and moved in with her boyfriend some time ago.

The tension between mother and daughter escalates until finally, an item of great importance to both of them gets broken: Rose’s Hanji box—made from traditional Korean paper—that Hannah and her husband had bought for Rose years ago in Koreatown. Or did they? Rose claims to have brought it with her from Korea—a gift from her biological birthmother.

Determined to prove Rose wrong, and to fix the box, Hannah takes the train to Koreatown to find the store where she bought the box. In the process, she embarks on a journey of cultural discovery and adoption—her own.


Background of Project

In 2005, filmmaker Nora Jacobson read an autobiographical memoir by her childhood friend Meg Dean Daiss. “The Painting in Insadong” chronicled Meg’s journey as an adoptive mother of two Korean children, her growing preoccupation and awareness of the grief of Korean birth mothers, and her subsequent journey to Korea to understand the circumstances leading to the adoption of Korean babies by Westerners. In Korea, Meg fell in love with a Korean artist. The essay tells the story of that journey and love affair.

Nora found the story so enticing that she asked Meg to give her permission to write a script based on it. Meg agreed and Nora wrote a feature length script which was a finalist for the Emerging Narrative Award at the Independent Feature Market. Then in 2007, aided by a grant from the LEF Foundation, Nora took a plane to Korea to do location research, accompanied with producer Jane Applegate. The Seoul Film Commission took an interest in the project and awarded them a grant to make a second trip to Korea to find a Korean producer and begin casting.

Money was raised

…fabulous actors were cast, Producer Amy Lo joined the team, several Korean producers expressed strong interest, but the financing never fell completely into place. Nora, Jane and Amy moved on to other projects, but Nora never gave up the hope of making something out of all that work, love and passion.

Nora rewrote the script as a short film, and with the help of generous donors, she and her crew of Vermonters and New Yorkers shot it in May and June of 2015. Nora’s Korean production designer friend Suhyeon Kim and two of her colleagues traveled from Seoul, Korea to join them and make sure the Korean aspects of the film were authentic. Far from abating, our interest in the two cultures has intensified and we hope to shoot a sequel in Korea in the near future.

See http://www.firecirclefilms.org/html/photos.html for some images from our scouting.