Helen Lee

Helen Lee is an independent filmmaker based in Toronto and Seoul whose narrative and experimental films explore intersectionalities of place, identity and sexuality. Her works address diasporic gendered subjectivities in cinema, encompassing feminist and transnational perspectives. SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990) is her first film and is widely taught in Asian American, Film, and Gender and Women’s Studies programs.

Helen is a graduate of University of Toronto (BA), New York University (MA), Whitney Independent Study Program, Canadian Film Centre’s Director Resident Program, and York University (MFA). She has taught screenwriting and directing at Queen’s University, Korea National University of Arts, Yonsei University and OCAD University. She is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada and Writers Guild of Canada.

Published articles include: "A Peculiar Sensation: A Personal Genealogy of Korean American Women’s Cinema," published in Dangerous Women: Gender and Korean Nationalism (Routledge), excerpted in Cineaste and reprinted in Screening Asian Americans (Rutgers University Press); and a conversation with Celine Parreñas Shimizu, entitled "Sex Acts: Two Meditations on Race and Sexuality," appears in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

Selected Filmography: PARIS TO PYONGYANG (2023), INTO SUCH ASSEMBLY (2019), HERS AT LAST (2008), THE ART OF WOO (2001, feature film), SUBROSA (2000), PREY (1995), MY NIAGARA (1992), SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990). Her films are distributed by Women Make Movies (US), Arsenal (Germany), Indiestory (Korea), CFMDC and CFC Features (Canada). (04/22)

Available Title(s):


Helen Lee Compilation


A film by Helen Lee, , 0 min, Color

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging…

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Subrosa


A film by Helen Lee, 2000, 22 min, Color

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and…

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My Niagara


A film by Helen Lee, 1992, 40 min, Color

Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds…

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Sally's Beauty Spot


A film by Helen Lee, 1990, 12 min, Color

A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity.

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