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Breaking the Silence

Written by: Seayoon Jeong Sandra Philip |   Directed by: Seayoon Jeong |  Genre: Short/Drama

  This may not be a non-fiction title, but Breaking the Silence flirts with the true to life happenings of world war two. The story of Francesca (Grace Shen) may be a fabrication, but for so many other women, her story is as real as it gets. Francesca “Fran” Keahola is a retired woman who became a nurse during the second world war to help those in need. It was at Christmas that the hospital she attended was raided by soldiers, and the majority of people, patients, and staff, were murdered. As brutal as it sounds, in many ways, they were the lucky ones. Some of the women, Fran included, were taken prisoner and brought to an encampment in a forest. Their new purpose? Prostitution, or as they were called, “Comfort women.”

  The purpose of the comfort woman was as simple as it was cruel. To “comfort” men of the war. They didn’t have a choice, and were beaten into submission if they didn’t comply. Human trafficking to the max, and only recognized as a war crime in 1993. As the film continues, we witness Fran’s capture as well as her failed escape attempt. This is all recorded by Betty (Rumi Oyama) as she interviews Fran, which is also how this film is presented. Fran’s history is captured by Betty, and Breaking the Silence doesn’t mince it’s screen time.

 You hear a lot about world war two, but not nearly enough about the Japanese elements of the war crimes, and this film does a fantastic job at recreating some really awful moments in history. From the set design to the costuming, it’s obvious that a lot of work went into this title. Breaking the Silence shows us in graphic detail, what was happening that didn’t make world headlines. And it’s all just as bad as what did make them.

  I have to give credit where credit is due. For a film under a half hour, and micro-budget to boot, Breaking the Silence is a whollop of information, and a great companion piece to other educational world war two movies and documentaries. The way it’s presented as an “interview” keeps things grounded and real, and the dramatizations make it entertaining along the way. Breaking the Silence? What a great short film, and thank you for reading.

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