Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Juche Idea

Though I haven't seen director Jim Finn's prior "utopian comedies" exploring communism in the USSR and Peru, his current venture into North Korean ideology with “The Juche Idea” leaves little doubt as to why he's a darling of the experimental filmmaking world. Nabbing Best Narrative Feature at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, the 62-minute flick takes as its starting point Kim Jong Il's Juche (choo-CHAY), a philosophy of self-reliance that the Dear Leader applied to his film industry beginning in the late '60s. While Finn makes ample use of footage from North Korea's state-sanctioned propaganda docs and hokey narrative features, the heart of the story lies with a South Korean video artist named Yoon Jung Lee, tasked to breathe new life into Juche cinema during a North Korean art residency at a collective farm. While the character of this video artist was inspired by an actual South Korean kidnapped in the '70s and forced to work for Kim Jong Il's moviemaking machine, her true role is as Finn's own imaginary stand-in.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant Magazine.

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