The Stolen

A young girl turns to the fantastical world of her imagination to escape her emotionally-abusive home. Her father, a veteran, committed suicide after witnessing the horrors of war in Afghanistan. Her older brother is now lashing out with anger and violence at the world around him.

One day, she oversees her brother and his friends beating a frail teenage boy and imprisoning him in a cage. She rescues the boy telling him she is a fairy princess. When the boy promises to grant her a wish, she discovers that he’s more than he appears. Her secret wish comes true, but at a dark price.

Creative team

Writer/director: Karen Lam
Producer: Karen Wong

Director’s statement

Karen Lam says:

“I have a deep love for fairy tales and mythology and The Stolen is a direct reflection of these influences.

The film began as part of a short story collection, loosely based on my favourite fairy tales, retold in the form of dark, dramatic fiction. I was exploring narration and point-of-view and this story was about Essie, an imaginative little girl whose fictional fairyland becomes manifest when she rescues a fairy boy from a cave.

The Modern Faerie Tale series of young adult novels by Holly Black first introduced me to fairies as Gothic creatures who couldn’t touch iron, lived in a perpetual state of bacchanalia and treated humans as playthings. This was as far from Tinkerbell as I could imagine and I wondered if I could re-introduce fairies as a new form of monster for modern film audiences.

I also found research depicting fairies as fallen angels, cast out after the war of heaven, but who were not dark enough to enter the gates of hell. These fallen creatures are doomed to wander our earth in a permanent state of purgatory. The crow and raven imagery emerged from reality (the park where we filmed the short film is the pit stop/drinking hole for hundreds of crows every day) and, mythically, they are often seen as the guards between the living and dead. The idea of fairies travelling as dark crows was very appealing, like a murder of fairies.

When developing the backstory of Essie and her bullying brother Braden, I was influenced by reading newspaper stories of recent veterans from the Canadian Armed Forces. Many of these young men have returned to ‘society,’ broken by their experiences but falling between the cracks. Young, vibrant men, mentally destroyed by their experiences, suffering from deep depression and finally resorting to violence, drugs and alcohol to deal with their internal pain. Their experiences have a rippling effect, like stones in a puddle, on their spouses and children and on our entire society. We all pay the price of war: the casualties are not only the ones who’ve died overseas.

My films, usually in the form of horror and thriller, seek to explore human fragility and strength against the social context of an increasingly thoughtless society that discards the fragile and vulnerable.”

About Karen Lam


Karen Lam has been a full-time producer since 2000, producing two feature films, four short films, three television series and six short films.

The Cabinet, her first short film as a writer/director, received the NSI Drama Prize in 2006. Karen has since written five feature film screenplays and directed her first feature film, Stained, in November 2009, a BC/Saskatchewan co-production, which premiered as part of the Telefilm Perspective Canada showcase at the Cannes Film Market. The feature is distributed by eOne (Canada), and released in the US in August 2011 by Celebrity Home Entertainment. Stained recently played at All Things Horror in Boston and won best actress at the HorrorQuest in Atlanta.

Karen’s 2011 short film Doll Parts has been invited to over 48 international film festivals since its completion and has won best story (Tulsa Underground Horror Festival) best director (HorrorQuest), best horror short (Midnight Black International Film Festival and Creative Arts Film Festival). She has been featured in horror magazines Fangoria and Diabolique and listed on Planet Fury’s 2012 top 10 Canadian genre directors to watch.

Her short film, The Stolen, a darkly atmospheric fantasy, was showcased at the Cannes Short Film Corner 2012 and was invited to screen at 15 film festivals in fall 2012 including the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. It won best horror short film and best director at the Shawna Shea Independent Short Film Festival in Massachusetts.

Karen was the series director on the true crime documentary series Very Bad Men, for 10 episodes, produced by Make Believe Media in Vancouver, and broadcast on Investigation Discovery US and Canada.

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