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An Interview with Karen Lam, Director of Chiral

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2015

Films directed by Karen Lam on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Chiral - in a few words, what is it about?


The film is about an art dealer who has his iPad stolen on the night of his gallery opening. He confronts the would-be thief, and discovers that nothing is what he thinks it is.


You came up with the story for Chiral together with your leads Nelson Leis and Vanessa Walsh - so who had the original idea, what can you tell us about the creative process, and your sources of inspiration when writing story and screenplay?


Nelson and Vanessa were working on a short film idea, based on an incident that happened at Vanessa's workplace. The original idea was about chirality, which is a scientific term dealing with molecules and I was really intrigued about exploring Jungian theory in a short film. I took the original story idea and wrote the script, using Nelson and Vanessa as sounding boards. It's a luxury to be able to write and create with your lead actors, rather than having to write in a vacuum.


Nelson Leis

To what extent can you actually identify with your lead Hank?


Right after we filmed and finished the film, I lost my own father. In some ways, the story feels a little prophetic: I didn't expect to have my own life as fractured as it has been over the last year. I can identify with the burden of expectation on Hank's shoulders.


I think Chiral is a movie that keeps you guessing long after you've seen it - a fair assessment, and if so, what can you tell us about that aspect of your movie?


Chiral can be seen in quite a number of ways. For me, it is directly related to my own understanding of Jung: The anima/animus of our identity, and our relationship to the shadow self. This film is probably the most esoteric of any films I've written or directed, but probably because of my own personal experiences this last year.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


Vanessa Walsh

With this film, everything was handheld and shot on a small Sony DSLR. I didn't want anything to feel stable or moored, because Hank's world is about to splinter. The slightly nauseating feeling is something I was playing with: I supposed it's a little sadistic to try to make the audience feel like I've been feeling over the last year...


Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?


The story comes from Nelson and Vanessa, so there was no question that they would be my two central leads. I brought Ingrid Nilson on board to balance them out: Ingrid is a talented actress and voice actress, but also my yoga instructor. She has a certain warmth that I wanted to balance against the coolness of Nelson and Vanessa's energies: I wanted to make sure that Hank had someone in his life that was an achor, even if he rejects her help.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We shot over two days in an art gallery space, actually felt like a gallery opening because we had all the extras, as well as a Dutch television crew that was shooting our set as part of a reality show. It was all a little surreal, like the shoot itself! Everything was a bit guerilla: My DP Michael Balfry used minimal lighting, we had the handheld camera and a little rig, and that's about it. I love working with a small crew if I can get away with it - it's a little more work for everyone but we're more agile and flexible.


Ingrid Nilson

The $64-question of course, when and where will Chiral be released onto the general public?


We're just starting to get into film festivals: We had our world premiere at the Monsters of Film festival in Sweden, and our North American premiere is at Blood in the Snow in Toronto. There's a few other invitations but I can't announce those until the festivals give me the a-okay.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?


Actually, you're our first review! Friends and family, as lovely as they are, make terrible critics.


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Germany (East AND West)

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Your shop for all things Thai

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x-rated  find Karen Lam at

Any future projects you'd like to share?


I have two new feature scripts and a mini-series, but I have some fairly extensive writing to do on them. There's a certain hell in writing, I have to admit. I also have another feature film script I wrote in the same way for Nelson and Vanessa, but it's a 1970s road trip movie set in the Nevada desert.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Just the FB page, at the moment -


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


The weirdest thing happened to Nelson last week: His iPad was stolen by a transient out of a coffee shop and literally, it was like the film, minus the ending. Nelson said that if I was manifesting, wouldn't it be better if I wrote the next film for him and Vanessa set on a beach in Maui...?


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD