Jee Woo Choi

Artist bio

Jee Woo Choi is a Vancouver-based filmmaker best known for his short films that often blend human drama and nature documentary. His films include a short documentary, “The Everlasting Gift,” the Runner-up at the 2012 USC Shoah Foundation Student Voices Film Festival. He has participated in the editorial team for the 2020 Peabody Award-winning documentary feature, “Inventing Tomorrow” and in the music video production team at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). He has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Law at the University of Southern California and he is currently developing film projects.


Culture Stream

Artist Statement

I believed one day that the quarantine and movies were good excuses to begin my study on Paul's books. The challenge to be self-sufficient and resourceful as the sole filmmaker appealed to me as well. I have closely followed my confession of faith in telling the garden gnome's journey. It has been a joy to meditate on His Word and recollect my first step in Him.

How it fits into contest

Spiritual Battle in Culture Stream

A garden gnome has his face to the wall, weary of the many worldly truths that promise much but never satisfy. The mind is where the spiritual battle rages. The moment of calm is deceptive. Where do the good thoughts end and the bad thoughts begin? Have we been swallowed up and spat out by the wind all along? This is his journey to “work out [his] salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 ESV).

The culture of worldly knowledge entices us as it promises us a way to make sense of the world and to take control of our own lives. But do we control worldly knowledge or does it control us? It answers us in fragments and we let ourselves be carried away by the wind, the wind of change. The worldviews promise much but give very little. We grumble “what life is this… woe is me!” because we are looking elsewhere for answers. But it is amazing to imagine how different the same things would look with God’s perspective. The same “what life” takes on a very different meaning, “what beauty,” once he sees the much greater world than that of stony walls. It is God who gives us strength and it is God who fights for us in the spiritual battle. He arms us and he will show us His world if we seek God through his Word.

Yet we lose our faith too often. It is in our sinful nature to follow the pattern of the world, the “what ifs” followed by “what life is this… woe is me!” The doubtful thoughts once again clutter our minds and move us further away from God. We willingly keep the “tiny coat of prickles” seemingly harmless until we realize that they have turned invasive as a massive shrub branching out from the head!

The answer is simple but neglected. Ultimately, it is not control that we long for but peace through prayer and meditation of the Word. We must lay down our plans and thoughts that we believe should be done on our own. In learning to fear God, we learn to walk again and the truth frees us. The mind needs trimming just as a garden needs trimming. It is only when the gnome turns back and confesses our worries and fears to God that the invasive shrub is removed.

Our defense in the spiritual battle comes with a transformation. The questions stop and we awake to the culture of truth, ready to proclaim the hope in Jesus. Singing the traditional Appalachian hymn, “Bright Morning Stars,” the gnome keeps the wheelbarrow, the Word, close and discards the shrub flower. His suspenders, truth and righteousness, and boots, readiness to share the good news, are given new value alongside the wheelbarrow in service. He cannot help but move and shout! As the day breaks after a rainstorm and the mind is emptied, the gnome greets new life listening to the Word. At home, he is armed and in his hand is the shrub flower that he has uprooted. Perhaps he has been able to move all this time!

Romans 12:2 ESV – “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


Jee Woo Choi as Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Editor and Performer

Transcript / Lyrics

GN –
Am I losing my grip on the wind or is the wind loosening its grip on me?
Storm before the calm or calm before the storm, I cannot tell.

What life? The world spins around and yet I cannot spin with it.
The walls do not speak. What life? A few drops of mud sustains me and yet I am bloated enough to fill the seas.
What life? A tiny coat of prickles tickle me and yet… and yet I think I’ll outgrow them and wear them proud.

GN (singing) –
They are down in the valley praying.
Day is breaking in my soul.

GN –
Where will the wind carry us?

What life! (falls)

What life? What life? What life? What life? (scissor cut)

GN (singing) –
Bright morning stars are arising
They have gone to heaven shouting.
Day is breaking in my soul.

GN –
Here I am listening.
The words delight me!

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