A young Asian woman, played by the wonderful Valerie Tian, is released from prison and struggles to survive the harsh reality of life on the outside. With the “help” of her friend Flea, portrayed with a sneer and a smirk by actor Ingrid Nilson, she must choose between a dangerous life on the streets or being sucked back into her former life of gangs and a devastating drug habit. The Curse of Willow Song is nominated for 10 awards at the upcoming 2020 Leo Awards. I asked director Karen Lam a couple of questions.
TP: Why did you decide to shoot the film in black & white?
KL: My inspirations included Japanese ghost stories and samurai films from the 1960s, including Oni Baba, Kwaidan and Kuroneko. The removal of colour forces us to look at framing and lighting in a much more graphic way and worked with the story and mood I had in mind.
TP: Was there one main story or incident that inspired you to write and make this film which touches upon many social current issues?
KL: I’ve been following the attitudes from a lot of my Caucasian friends in Vancouver regarding recent Asian immigration and the effect on real estate market prices: the sense that immigration is to blame for being priced out of homes and the underlying racial tensions, something I was not expecting to hear from my otherwise liberal friends and colleagues. I wanted to address some of those issues but in a way that was more palatable: in a simple supernatural story.
Here is an interview between Karen Lam and Sheryl MacKay and her inspiration behind The Curse of Willow Song.
Montecristo Magazine interviews Karen Lam as the film is currently screening online and in cinema as part of the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival, where it was recently awarded the Best BC Film Award for “its spirit of risk in storytelling.”