I know I promised the mother-lode but I’m afraid it’s just going to have to be another taste. Here’s the first part (there are three in total) of a DPRK documentary about Kim Jong-Il’s efforts as a producer in North Korea.
Fascinating because: you see interviews with actors, some great pictures I’d not seen before and, best of all, it’s in English.
Happy Friday everyone.
I dug out some footage from Chinese broadcaster CCTV of the Pyongyang International Film Festival that is going on at the moment.
I am sick as a dog not to be there – alas my application to enter a film into the festival was not accepted… in fact I just never heard back after a long period of time getting things together for the application. Oh well, perhaps I can go in two years time.
The member of the audience speaking is Korean and his soundbite translates as:
“It’s my first time to take part in the film festival. I am so excited. I think Chinese movies are the best.”
Johannes Schönherr dropped me a line the other day to highlight an interview he conducted with Masao Kobayashi, the producer of Somi – the Taekwon-do Woman.
Always good to hear from the man as he highlights another little insight into making movies in the DPRK. You might remember us speaking previously about a potential screening of the DPRK-Japan co-production in London in an earlier post. If you are interested in seeing the film, please contribute!
A little down the line I hope to have a review of Johannes Schönherr’s book on North Korea cinema which has now officially been released. Grab your copy here.
In the previous post we pointed out that Disney made it’s stage debut in the DPRK, but also in the same performance the theme from Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” was heard.
Here it is for your listening pleasure.
A Korean feature film “Two Families in Haeun-dong” produced in 1996 and the other “Myself in the Distant Future” in 1997 gave deep emotions to the Korean people.
The former shows that one can only enjoy happiness in family when he devotes everything for the country and people, not for only his family. And the latter deals with the issue what valuable wealth younger generation should create for the country.
It gained a gold torch light prize at the 6th Pyongyang International Film Festival for its high ideological and artistic value.
The two scenarios were created by Ui Ung Yong in his early 30s.
He, who was specially interested in literature in his childhood, wrote his first scenario “Days at University” when he worked at an institute in local area as an assistant.
His first work won the prize at a contest for its good theme and value in education. This led him to a professional scenario writer.
He has persistently strived to work out scenarios dealing with issues urgently requested in public, to give answers with plain but meaningful stories.
He has become a Kim Il Sung Prize winner at 33 for creating excellent works reflecting the requirement of the era and the revolution. He has made persistent efforts to create many good works such as “People in Jagang Province” (Part 1 and 2), “Firelight”, “Fraternal Feeling”, “Wave of Songgang” (Part 1 and 2) and “Let People Appreciate You” in a bid to repay for the trust and hope of the Party.
Another feature film written by him will soon be on screen to make a hit.
As the Rodong Sinum continues to put up articles of a film-related nature, I will try and dig them up and post them here. I’ve not come across any of this guy’s films, but it’s possible that their English translation of the titles is different to what I have.
*Note: Gag Halfrunt pointed out, quite rightly, that one of the films referenced is Myself in the Distant Future”. Good work!
There are so many facets of North Korean animation worth exploring (I touched on it a little bit in my last post).
By far the most fascinating account of how the animation industry works in North Korea can be found in the graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. Guy Delisle – a French-speaking Canadian – was sent to North Korea by the French animation studio he was working for. Pyongyang finds itself the unlikely Asian hub for animation outsourcing, and a few titles you might not expect have been animated there (Disney’s The Lion King for one).
The graphic novel manages to capture the mundaneness and blandless of Pyongyang whilst maintaining the readers interest. If you’re interested in North Korea, it’s definitely one of the lighter reads available on the market.
Not essentially a DPRK film related story, but the sheer bizarre nature of how WCW wrestling ended up performing a show in North Korea shortly after the death of Kim Il-Sung is definitely worth a post.
The above video shows a virtually silent crowd of 320,000 North Koreans packed into the Pyongyang’s May Day stadium to see the spandex clad wrestlers go at it. I wonder what the North Korean’s perception of whether the action is “fake” or not was.
Museum curator: “Our traditional martial art was established as Thaekkyon in Ri Dynasty through Koryo’s. Regionally its practitioners were nicknamed differently. Eg, Chaebi and Jebi…”
Mr Ko: “… and those around Mount Taesong were called Pyongyang Nalpharam… “
I loved the feel of Pyongyang Nalpharam (2006), a film that was on my top 3 “must see” titles from North Korea. The opening scene, set in an impressive looking library, had all the elements that I love from this kind of kung fu movie: ancient texts, hidden forms of kung fu and details of long forgotten battles.
It’s difficult to over emphasize the importance of The Flower Girl (1972) in the history of North Korean cinema… and possibly even harder to find an analogous example in another country’s movie cannon. The US may have iconoclastic Citizen Kane (1941) and China the psycho-sexual drama Spring in a Small Town (1948) but there is a reverence paid to The Flower Girl that makes it far more than just the “greatest” film ever produced in the country.
Filmmakers Lynn Lee and James Leong of Lianain Films gained unprecedented access to the Pyongyang’s main film academy for an exceptionally well observed documentary piece.
It’s fascinating to see filmmakers battling with constant power cuts and also a group of obviously privileged students living in comfort in Pyongyang addicted to their mobile phones.
The 30-minute short appeared on Al Jazeera English in February but a feature-length project The Great North Korean Picture Show is scheduled to be released in the near future.