Activist, Filmmaker, Director
Iara Lee, a Brazilian of Korean descent, is an activist, filmmaker, and director of the Cultures of Resistance Network, a foundation that connects like-minded citizens seeking to build a more just and peaceful world through creative resistance and nonviolent action. It supports and collaborates with activists, agitators, educators, and artists around the globe.
As a filmmaker, Iara has released several full-length documentaries and dozens of short films over the past decade. In 2015, she completed two new documentaries: K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, shot in stunning northern Pakistan, chronicles the plight of the indigenous porters of majestic K2, the earth’s second-highest peak. LIFE IS WAITING: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara looks at forty years of Moroccan occupation and the Sahrawi nonviolent struggle for self-determination by a people for whom colonialism has never ended. In 2013, Iara made a short film titled THE KALASHA AND THE CRESCENT, which chronicles how this indigenous minority in northern Pakistan responded to the challenges facing their culture. In 2012, she released a documentary called THE SUFFERING GRASSES: when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, which examines the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In 2010, she released the feature-length documentary CULTURES OF RESISTANCE, which explores how creative action contributes to conflict prevention and resolution.
In May 2010, Iara was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, leading to the murder of nine humanitarian aid workers. Among the many people who recorded the events on that ship, her crew was the only one to successfully hide and retain most of the raid footage, which she later released to the world after a screening at the United Nations. Iara is dedicated to the support of Palestinian civilians who have been victims of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and who suffer from the Israeli government’s ongoing acts of collective punishment.
At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, Iara decided to live in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) in order to understand the conflict from that perspective. While residing in Lebanon in 2006, she experienced firsthand the 34-day Israeli bombardment of that country. Moved by that experience, she has since dedicated herself to the pursuit of a just peace in the region, and she is an enthusiastic supporter of those initiatives which strengthen adherence to international law.
From 1989 to 2003, she was based in New York City, where she ran the mixed-media company Caipirinha Productions, created to explore the synergy of different art forms, such as film, music, architecture, and poetry. Under that banner, Iara directed short and feature-length documentaries including Synthetic Pleasures, Modulations, Architettura, and Beneath the Borqa. Iara has also served as the producer of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival in Brazil.