Seayoon Jeong’s film deals with a delicate subject that we were not aware of. In ‘Breaking the silence’, the action gravitates around Francesca, one of the many comfort women for the Japanese army during the Second World War. Reaching old age, she is willing to tell her story to a journalist, to break the silence around this subject. Her life story is sad, and whilst telling it the memories of a hurtful past are coming back in a powerful way. The journalist informs Francesca that many people will gather in a rally to remember the gruesome acts of the Japanese army, and she invites her to participate as one of the few survivors.
To our shame, we had no clue about this sensitive topic of comfort women during the Second World War and some further documentation we have done really opened our eyes. It is hard to read and imagine what kind of mental and physical torture was for those women during such difficult times and how traumatic it was to live with the memory of those acts constantly flashing in your mind. The numbers are astronomical – somewhere around 450.000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines Australia or the Netherlands were held captive and abused. The whole subject gained attention in 1991 when a group of survivors broke the silence, and further when the United Nations recognized it as a crime of war in 1993. We’ve listed all these details here with the sole purpose of foregrounding the importance of this film regarding this sensitive matter. Through her film, Seayoon Jeong makes sure that all the sacrifice wasn’t in vain, and the world will remember the times, the heroes and the villains.
Based on how much we’ve learned from this short, we would go as far as classifying it as a documentary with a remarkably coherent storyline. Grace Shen playing Francesca shines bright and gives the story perspective. Her portrayal of a woman that is willing to face her darkest fears is by far one of the most beautiful pieces of acting we’ve seen in a while.
In our honest opinion, ‘Breaking the silence’ deserves to be turned into a feature film because the touching stories that were told here seem to be much more than meets the eye.
Written by Vlad A. G