Norwich Director’s New Film Took Years to Make

Even by the labor-of-love standards of independent filmmaking, it took Norwich’s Nora Jacobson a while to bring The Hanji Box into the world.

And 12 years after she optioned a friend’s nonfiction essay about cross-cultural adoption, Jacobson confesses that the hour-long adaptation she’ll unveil next Friday at the White River Indie Festival (WRIF) still doesn’t quite resemble the incarnations audiences saw at screenings last year.

“In some ways, you could say that it’s still in post-production,” Jacobson said with a laugh this week, during a telephone interview while she made her way back to the Upper Valley from another project in Maine. “I do tend to tweak and re-revise. The version for WRIF is different from what we brought to Australia, the Maine Independent Film Festival and Hong Kong.

“But I think, now, it’s done.”

Based on Claremont author Margaret (Meg) Daiss Hurley’s essay, The Poster in InsadongThe Hanji Box began its gestation as a feature-length script about a divorced woman and her adoptive daughter struggling to come to terms with the daughter’s renewed interest in her Korean heritage. The trigger to the plot is a dispute over who gave a decorative box, made of mulberry paper from Korea, to the daughter. That screenplay was a finalist for the Emerging Narrative Award at the Independent Feature Film Market, a weeklong annual festival in New York.

By 2007, with a foundation grant, Jacobson and producer Jane Applegate, then a Sharon resident, were researching locations in South Korea with a foundation grant. After another grant came from the Seoul Film Commission, and after Jacobson and Applegate traveled again to Korea to cast actors in 2007, the project looked ready for takeoff.

“Then in 2008 and 2009, after the stock-market crash, we lost the financing we had, and Jane and I took a hiatus for four years while I focused on Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie,” Jacobson said, referring to the series of six films about…

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