The Fence

There is a fence between the act of violence and the reflection upon those acts. Human nature prefers a narrative of war to be black or white: we had a ‘good’ war; we fought on the ‘right’ side…otherwise, our human suffering has had no meaning. The Fence is about what exists in-between what is remembered and witnessed. 

In 1941, 2000 Canadians suffer the longest incarceration anywhere in the Second World War, a bitter four-year period inside Japanese POW camps in Hong Kong and Japan.

George Macdonell and George Peterson, two of the last surviving Canadian veterans of this painful war-time experience, witnessed the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army inside the barbwire enclosure. They have never told their full story until today. On the other side of the camp fence, ten-year-old Luba Estes walks the fence line to see her father, imprisoned inside with the Canadians. She avoids direct glances, knowing that if the camp guards notice her looking directly at him, they may punish him with death. 

Examining this era of history are Hong Kong historian Chi Man Kwong and Japanese Professor Yuki Tanaka. These two men whose ‘nation’ is humanity, reflect on how revisionism has rewritten this world history. The threads that make up a common history highlight the futility of nationalism and war. The actions of war are never black or white. The perception of the acts of violence differ depending on whether you’re the one enacting, enduring, or watching. Memory is what slips through the gap in that fence to become what we imagine, as history.

Produced with additional funding from:

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