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Filmmaker Spotlight: Julie Ha

Julie Ha’s storytelling career spans more than two decades, in both ethnic and mainstream media, with a specialized focus on Asian American stories. She worked as an editor for 10 years at KoreAm Journal, a national Korean American magazine, and served as its editor-in-chief from 2011 to 2014, during which time she led award-winning coverage of the 20-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. She has written for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut, the Rafu Shimpo, a Los Angeles-based Japanese American newspaper, and the Los Angeles Times. Her feature stories have earned her awards from New American Media and the Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2018 the Korea Economic Institute of America honored her for her contributions to journalism. A graduate of UCLA, where she studied English-American Studies and worked as a student editor, she is a past board secretary of the Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles Chapter, and a founding board member of the late ’90s reboot of Gidra, a progressive Asian American magazine that originated in 1969. Free Chol Soo Lee, which made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, is her first documentary film.

How does it feel to have a film showcased at the Sundance Film Festival?

Our whole team is thrilled, honored, and grateful to have had the “Free Chol Soo Lee” premiere at Sundance 2022. And the overwhelmingly positive reception that the film has received — that has moved us beyond words.

How did the film come about and how did you get involved?