The Opposite of a Fairy Tale Director’s Statement
For a long time I was drawn to elders as a subject of my art - their wisdom and humanism - as their voices bare every step of life, and their faces embrace the struggle and pain of history. When Jennifer shared about her grandmother Josephine’s story and offered me to direct such a heart breaking tale, I was not only moved by the story but also by Jennifer’s courage to bring such a complicated issue out on the surface and her endeavor to make a social change.
I grew up in a culture where a society values respect for predecessors. What we called “Hyo” in Korean which can be translated as the idea of great amount of respect toward one’s parents is one of the most precious foundations of our community. However, as the society get modernized and accelerates change, “old” became no longer appreciated. This situation is no different in various countries includes US. Our main stream media praises youthfulness - older people are portrayed as negative and useless, though there is a dramatic increase in senior population in reality. In this world where we devalue seniority and oldness, Josephine’s story in The Opposite of a Fairy Tale and many elder abuse cases are not just someone else’s story, rather it is something happening now and yet many people are still hesitant to talk about.
The Opposite of a Fairy Tale is about the strife of Josephine when her belief and love is challenged at the later stage of her life as she is abandoned in a nursing home where she experiences mental, financial abuse by her beloved son and his wife. During the pre-production, Jennifer and I met various professionals in senior centers and learned about various elder abuse cases. One of the heartbreaking facts was Asian American females experience the highest rate of elder abuse and yet they are the least active group to come out; one of the reasons is that Asian first generation immigrants grew up in the culture where they emphasize family value more than an individual. However, this issue is not simply limited to Asian American but also universal in any aging society that doesn’t provide proper provision. Through the film, I wanted to bring the light on the complexity of the elder abuse cases through both perspectives - abuse victim Josephine and outsider who has a potential to help an abusee, in this case, a social worker Celeste. Ultimately with a hope that the film can start the dialogue about elder abuse.
We all can be Celeste to somebody. In reality, it’s hard to find a person who is brave enough to step out because not only abuse cases are complicated and private but also many of us don’t knowwhere to start. We might know Josephine in some part of our lives - someone who encounters abusive situation and yet struggle to accept it due to fear and shame. It’s the time to think about how to make a change to protect people who taught us how to live and love when we were young.
Youn Jung Kim