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dirs. Lynn Lee, James Leong
2012 | Singapore | Documentary | In Korean with English subtitles | 94 min | PG

 

Welcome to Hollywood, Kim Jong Il-style. 

North Korea’s film industry is a vital tool in the regime’s vast propaganda machinery. Now, for the first time ever, foreign filmmakers have been allowed into the country’s only film school – an elite institution where young talents are trained to create works that will not only entertain, but help shape the psyche of an entire nation.

Kim Un Bom and Ri Yun Mi are two aspiring actors handpicked to become future movie stars. Idealistic and ambitious, they have huge dreams. Their lives are a reflection of how the best and brightest live in the world’s most secretive state.

Over at the North Korean Film Studio, Director Pyo Hang is racing to complete the country’s latest blockbuster, a period drama featuring a cast of hundreds.  It’s a highly stressful environment and Pyo has his work cut out – he must not only rally his cast and crew, he must deliver a masterpiece that will please his leaders.

 

Directors’ Note

In 2008, our documentary, Aki Ra’s Boys was invited to the Pyongyang International Film Festival. There, we got a glimpse of a film industry like no other. The North Korean movie stars and directors we met spoke about serving their country and crafting messages that would glorify their leaders. They told us about their roles as creators of propaganda, and about their General, Kim Jong Il – genius of film, theatre and music.

Some people have suggested that our subjects were merely putting on an act. Maybe they were told to be on their best behavior, but we hope that by being patient, by stepping back, and by being as unobtrusive as possible, we were able to capture moments when they were their genuine, unadulterated selves.

What is the truth? What is real? All we can say is we opened a door, walked in, and observed. Did we succeed? The audience will just have to watch and decide.

 

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