Traces of Brilliant Spirit by Kyeng McGuirk and Aleta Hammerich
Traces of Brilliant Spirit is a feature historical documentary about a Korean artist who has dedicated her life to painting portraits of Korean women who fought for freedom 100 years ago.
Long Project Description
Celebrated Korean artist, Yun Suknam started painting portraits of female freedom fighters after realizing they were nearly wiped from Korean history. When she started, she could not fathom why these women would fight for a country that did not recognize them. This film is about understanding why these women fought and how that fueled the artist’s passion.
The film chronicles 5 women who were a part of the March 1, 1919 movement:
Kim Ran-sa was on a secret mission as an emissary for the last King of Korea (Gojong) to the Paris Peace Conference.
The next four women’s activities led them to a single jail cell in Seodaemun prison – the last prison built by the Japanese that was left standing.
Kim Maria - smuggled the Declaration of Independence
No Soon-kyung was a nurse at Severance Hospital
Yu Gwan-sun – was a student activist and died in prison at 17
Kim Hyang-hwa – gathers 3,000 gisaeng to demonstrate
Developed during the 2023 Wāhine in Film Lab
Connection to the story
I am a Korean-American documentary filmmaker based in Honolulu. Traces of Brilliant Spirit is my first feature historical documentary about a Korean artist who has dedicated her life to painting portraits of Korean women who fought for freedom 100 years ago.
The country was occupied, a revolution was brewing, and countless women risked everything to oppose Japanese occupation. And in the process, discover themselves. A small window of opportunity opened for the independence movement which culminated on March 1, 1919 - A nationwide demonstration where nearly two million men and women marched.
Kyeng McGuirk - Director
Shirley Thompson – Editor
JeeHyun Kwon - Field producer in Seoul
Alison. Week - Cinematographer
Lee Yoon-ok - Historian
Kyeng McGuirk firstname.lastname@example.org