Last Memory

Films

12MIN

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Available on 10/10/2020 10am
human rights, refugees
By the time refugees and migrants step onto a boat, many will have been tortured, raped, held for ransom, and seen people die around them. These refugees risk everything to make the treacherous journey as their lives they leave back home pose a greater threat than the sea. The Last Memory is a poetic homage to the death of a young Yemeni champion, who tragically lost his life at sea, whilst seeking refuge from the ongoing war in Yemen. Losing a close friend will affect us in many different ways and how we express our grief, sorrow and pain will take many forms. Lose to refugees, who have already lost so much, can be even more harrowing. The film's underlying concept is to raise awareness about the reality of why refugees go to such extremes for survival and why they risk their lives on these very dangerous trips, just for a slim chance of escaping the dangers in their home country. Through this film I want people to understand that these tragic and countless deaths continue to happen every single day despite the efforts of organizations such as the UNHCR. Based on a true story, filmed and produced in South Korea. Written and directed by Neil P. George. The Korean version is narrated by Jung Woo Sung (https://filmfreeway.com/projects/1865216). Produced in association with the UNHCR.

Included with

Director Biography - Neil P George

Neil George is a film professor, producer, and director of several award-winning documentary films. He was born and raised in Exeter, England and has been living in South Korea since 2011 teaching film production at a media university as well as producing documentaries related to Korean society.

The producer and director of over 100 TV programs for Sky in the 2000’s he took the decision to move to Korea when offered an opportunity to teach documentary production at a media university near Seoul and has been there ever since. After moving to Korea he took great interest in society and culture and found a passion for human rights filmmaking. He produced the award-winning film, ‘While they Watched’ (2015), a film about North Korean defectors and then went onto to co-direct and produce the film, ‘Beyond the Picture; The story of Sohn Kee Chung’, a film about Sohn Kee Chung, the marathon runner who won the 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medal and the only gold medalist, to date, to never hear his own national anthem played whilst standing on the podium.

After completing this in late 2015 he moved onto produce and direct the award-winning documentary, ‘After the Sewol’ (2016) and has now spent over 3 years working on ’After the Sewol’ and his second film related to the Sewol tragedy, ‘Crossroads’. In 2018, he started a new project, in association with the UNHCR, ‘Our Journey’, which is a series of films exploring the stories of the Yemeni refugees who came to Jeju island seeking asylum and the factors behind why they escaped their country.

Director Statement

In 2018, 480 Yemeni refugees entered Jeju Island, South Korea seeking asylum from the war that has been raging on since 2015. Since their arrival, between April and May 2018, every time the issue received some air space, it was very negative, or we just saw the Korean people protesting for their expulsion. There was very little positive media attention, and rarely did we have the chance to listen to the stories of the refugees. What we witnessed was tens of thousands of Koreans taking to the streets of Seoul protesting, calling them “fake refugees” and accusing the Yemenis of being economic migrants, without any knowledge of the situation in Yemen or taking into account their stories.
I was somewhat frustrated and annoyed by this attitude and so after talking with my producer, Hankyul Kim, we decided to make try and make a film about the issue.

I have always lived by a simple golden rule in life, the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. When I arrived on Jeju to talk with the refugees I did not consider how deep this issue was rooted. This issue was not just about the Yemeni refugees, it went a lot deeper than that, but at the heart of it is; Can we allow ourselves to turn a blind eye to these growing human rights issues that are taking place all over the world and sometimes right next door?

We can only truly understand these issues when we open our eyes, our ears, and our minds, and what I witnessed after the Sewol ferry tragedy in 2014 and the empowerment of the South Korean people, leading up to the impeachment of then-President Park Guen Hye in 2016, was being heavily diminished by their attitude towards the Yemeni refugees. What seemed to be missing was the fundamental human trait of empathy, the ability to vicariously experience how another is feeling, and it is the principle of empathy by which we should live our lives.

In producing this film I want to try and shed some more light on the Yemen refugee issue in Jeju and around the world, so they can be treated like human beings, have basic human rights and access to things that most of us take for granted every day. And ultimately I hope people can start to understand and feel some empathy for what their country has and is still going through.

- Neil P. George

Credits

Directed by Neil P George

Written by Neil P George

Produced by Neil P George
Hankyul Kim
Heinn Shin
Hyun Young Chae

Cast Jung Woo Sung

Title Sponsor