NSCAD student nominated for Canadian Screen Award

Mary & Myself tells the story of two women rehearsing for the Vagina Monologues and exposes a dark element of Japanese history

Mary & Myself was inspired by conversations between director Sam Decocted and narrator Jia Tsu Thompson. (Photo courtesy of the National Film Board)
Mary & Myself was inspired by conversations between director Sam Decocted and narrator Jia Tsu Thompson. (Photo courtesy of the National Film Board)

A tragic story from Japanese history and a performance of a popular series of monologues frame an animated documentary that has recently been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.

Mary & Myself tells the story of two older Asian women from Halifax as they prepare to perform an excerpt of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.  The charming story of the women’s debut is juxtaposed with the heart-wrenching history of so-called Japanese comfort women from the Second World War.

NSCAD master of fine arts student Sam Decoste wrote, directed and animated the documentary, which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

“I’m absolutely thrilled.  I’m so surprised,” says Decoste about her nomination in the best short documentary category.  “I think it is going to give much more exposure to the film.”

Decoste had the inspiration for Mary & Myself after spending years in Taiwan. The New Glasgow native would frequent the Mu Lan Tea House on Lower Water Street which was run by Jia Tsu Thompson.

“I guess I was going through a bit of culture-shock after living there for seven years,” Decoste says.  “It was a place I could go to and speak Chinese and she is a very interesting woman.”

One day Thompson told Decoste the story of how she and her friend Mary Mohammed were once asked to perform a monologue about comfort women. Mohammed is the founder of Mary’s Bread Basket, which is located in the Seaport and Historic farmers’ markets. Decoste knew the story would be a great subject for her first NFB film.

During the Second World War, thousands of women from areas occupied by the Japanese were kidnapped or duped into forced prostitution.  These women were forced into sexual acts with dozens of Japanese soldiers each day.  Many of the women died, were tortured and were left infertile from sexually transmitted diseases and trauma.

There is no accurate number of women, now called grandmothers, affected during the war, but estimates range from 20,000 to 500,000 women.  Every Wednesday since 1992 survivors, now in their 80s and 90s, protest outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea seeking an apology for what was done for them.

Recalling the monologue

Mary & Myself is a short animated documentary, which was written, directed by Sam Decoste. (Photo courtesy of National Film Board and Rohan Fernando)
Mary & Myself is a short animated documentary, which was written, directed by Sam Decoste. (Photo courtesy of National Film Board and Rohan Fernando)

The experience of performing the monologue left the two women with two very different emotional reactions.  Thompson became angry when thinking of her lines.

“I would remember the lines such as they do it when we were bleeding. They do it when we are so young before we were bleeding.  Fifty soldiers a day. Sometimes a shipload of them.  Japanese government, say ‘Sorry’,” she says with passion in the documentary.

Mohammed would cry during rehearsals.  She vividly remembers the emotions felt when rehearsing.

“Every time we were memorizing, we were reliving what the women had to go through.  So that’s why our part was so depressing, but we were determined to go through it,” she recalled today.

“When you go through something as dramatic as that, you live through it every day,” Mohammed says in an interview, welling up in tears.  “That’s why the more exposure, it will help them.”

Mohammed is proud to be a part of such a touching documentary and proud of Decoste as well.

“Besides the beautiful work she did, it’s the effort she put into it.  I am just so thrilled for her,” she says, adding, “She made us so cute.  She had a beautiful way of doing it.”

The Canadian Screen Awards will take place on March 9 and will be aired on CBC.




7 thoughts on “NSCAD student nominated for Canadian Screen Award

  1. Hold on and just watch this video too.


    The animation should be one of the propaganda thing which was supported by Chinese lobby organization “Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia”. The back is Chinese government.

    You will see like this bullshit animation things more in the future. Stay turned!

  2. I wonder whether or not you have confirmed verified evidence supporting the story that you believe truth.
    I wonder also whether you know that a deed to humiliate and disgrace a nation without verified evidence is a criminal deed, so anyone does it is deemed to be a criminal of false accusations.

  3. Please read and watch what the truth were and scatter them to your friends.

    1. About Korean comfort women:
    2. Message to Koreans:
    3. Testimony by a Taiwanese old lady:
    4. Prostitution in Korea after WWII.

    Thank you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Sunao Tanimoto
    Ex. E.E. Prof. of Nippon Institute of Tech., Japan
    4-14-1-501 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

  4. Is it ethically correct that you stand on one side spreading propaganda?

    Please verify your evidence of your animation message which is based on false accusation.

    You are committed to be a part of a crime that is against world peace to harmonize
    for political propaganda.

    If you are really concerned on human rights, why not Tibetans, Uyglues, Mongolians, let
    alone the Korean women, Phillipinos women exploited by human trafficking groups agant womens will??, and Vietnum rai dai Han who are deserted by
    Korean men raped Vietnamese girls during Vietnum war?? They are real cases,
    not controversial. I really think that humans are easy to be cheated with false story.

    I strongly recommend you to investigate on this matter. You should not be naive in your position.
    Otherwise you will damage reputation of your course and school.

  5. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-2zWWhzDVpusHexxB...
    U.S. historians, comfort women = sex slaves propaganda “This is blasphemy to the history!”

    Please check the above youtube. That is full of the real facts, not propaganda.
    If you want to glue vagina monologue and something women exploitation,
    you must show the cases of the Korean prostituttes in the US, Canada, Australia and Japan who are brought by Korean human trafficking business underground groups network with other gang groups. however!it is different that some Korean girls students sell their sex for big money in short period of time or travel in working holiday visa to
    work as prostitute.
    They earn lots of money and contribute at least five percent of Korean GDP. after IMF crisis.

    There are some families in Korea whose family business is prostitution, and mothersy and daughters have been prostitutes and support the families. In this case, they chose it and we cannot blame them because its their choise.

    Or you should show the victims of Vietnamese girls who were raped and killed brutally by Korean soldiers during the Vietnum war. girls raped but not killed and survived gave birth babies called
    Rai Dai Han, many of them became adopted children in the US. Do you know why so many kocean babies were adopted in the families of the developed countries? They were born but mothers are prostitutes in most of the cases It was my question for many years,why so many Korean babies were brought to overseas as adopted children.

    Anyway despite of that we like or not, we admit that there are always professional prostitutes, because the oldest business in history is prostitution.

    Do not be naive to be cheated by their Big Propaganda.

  6. I wonder how many people outside of Korea and Japan know Koreans have lied about own history numerous times till today.
    The history textbook used in Korea says Japan ruthlessly killed Koreans, banned Hangul, robbed Koreans’ properties, abolished Korean cultures etc during the occupation. They like to compare Japanese occupation with Holocaust.
    But everything above is not true. Please ask for the primary sources if some Koreans claim these kinds of thing. I bet they can’t provide them.
    Here’s the truth of the occupation based on the primary sources, which has been concealed by the Korean government in Korea.

    Why did many westerners praise Japan for her occupation of Korea?

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