Tuesday, February 11

Spot Light on North Korea Part Three by Ella Harris and Eve Marguerite Allen

Spot Light on North Korea Part Three: Propaganda for All 

Since the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011, North Korean cinema has received a surge of interest. The facts and fictions surrounding the North Korean cultural propaganda industries are as dark as they are bizarre. This three part article interrogates the construction and the function of the myths surrounding North Korea’s global image by examining the film produced there

Critical geopoliticians have long been alert to the ways in which films not only represent but also influence the way in which the world is understood. From the unrelenting American heroism of Independence Day to the post-Franco ‘Spanishness’ (re)created by Almodovar – the global film industry has a central role in the way we imagine national cultures. Film assists us in developing a national identity internally (in Britain we affiliate with black comedy and social realism) and determines the way in which we imagine other cultures from the outside. Far from being absurd or unusual, Kim Jong-il’s overt use of film as a geopolitical weapon is merely a more frank rendition of the conscious and subconscious politics of film globally. True, most national rulers don’t kidnap directors and insist upon being executive producer – but you only have to look to the UK Olympic opening ceremony last year to appreciate that the cultural output of most nations is very carefully considered. What is so fascinating about Kim’s film industry is not that it is peculiar or anomalistic, but that it displays such frankness and openness about promoting national ideology at a time when other national film cultures promote their ideologies far more insidiously. North Korea’s blatant and overt use of film to spread a message seems in some senses parodic of other national cinema industries. In a telling interview with The Seoul Times, a reporter asks Shin Shang-ok what impact Kim Jong-il’s isolated state has on his awareness of how the world works. Shin responds saying that “sometimes Kim looks at films like social documentaries. I told him that most American films are fiction.”

Sunday, February 2

Jeanne Dielman: A Soundtrack of the Everyday by Keifer Taylor

Jeanne Dielman: A Soundtrack of the Everyday

When referring to her 1993 film From The East in a lengthy interview for The A.V. Club, Chantal Akerman notes, “you feel as a viewer, when you face the film and experience the film, you feel an implosion” Reaching beyond this particular film, the quotation befits the filmmaker’s recently screened work. In all of its unyielding simplicity, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, is no exception. With each assured cut, Akerman’s second feature length narrative becomes a precarious game of jenga, casually building pressure until its eventual collapse. The result is a quietly painful, tense and nauseating ordeal that doesn’t seep out of the mind for days after the viewing.