Jean Elizabeth Lee is a Korean American writer, director and cinematographer. Born in Philadelphia, Lee graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Originally set for law school, Lee became interested in film as an advocacy tool when she directed and shot a short documentary on Philadelphia's sex trafficking industry called We Do Not Exist. The film went on to win several grants and awards, and was used as an educational resource at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.
Excited by the medium of visual storytelling and the power of communicating across all cultures in a meaningful and entertaining way, Lee decided to become a filmmaker. In 2010, Lee won the Jacob Javits Fellowship and began her graduate film studies at New York University Tisch Asia, a highly successful Tisch satellite campus in Singapore specializing in Asian and international filmmaking.
In October 2012, Lee wrote and directed Cahaya, shot in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2012, the film had its American premiere at DC Shorts Film Festival and its European premier at Berlinale International Film Festival in February 2013. Cahaya went on to play at other festivals around the world including Seoul International Women’s Film Festival and Kyoto Children's Film Festival. In 2013, the film was leased by Salaam Productions.
Upon finishing her studies in May 2013, Lee produced a feature film, Fragrant Rice, a film noir set in Singapore. Next, she produced a Focus Features short in South Africa called One-Way Ticket, a dark comedy that follows a neurotic undertaker.
In October 2013, Lee was accepted into the Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Intensive as writer/director of Kimchi Princess, a comedy about four middle-aged Korean-American women obsessed with winning a kimchi cook-off. Kimchi Princess was then selected for the 2014 FIlm Independent Director's Lab.
Currently, Lee is in pre-production on "The Tortoise and His Tail," a short film about a recovering sex offender who evades parole on Halloween night in order to reconnect with his daughter. The film will be Lee's Tisch, Asia thesis film and is being Produced through the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.
More information about Lee and her projects can be found at jeanelee.com.