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Home » ART[icle]S, IDFA 2012

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2012: Propaganda North Korean Style

Submitted by on December 25, 2012 – 12:58 pmNo Comment


Slavko Martinov documentary director of the film Propaganda.

Propaganda is a documentary purported to have been made in North Korea with images of decadent western lifestyle, capitalist culture and a message of salvation. A couple claiming to be North Korean dissidents approached a translator in Seoul handing her a DVD on condition that she translate and disseminate it.

All the hundreds of images in the documentary are  from TV and archive footage and  revolve around a North Korean scientist, whose identity has been concealed, who explains under different headings what is wrong with the western world.

From reality TV shows to starlets, fake smiles and consumerisation the whole package makes anyone living in this part of the globe want to cringe. When excerpts from Noam Chomsky come into it one completely agrees with the description of what is wrong with the system that we live under.

Then the bomb is dropped as a dialogue about salvation echoes out over  images of the People’s Republic of North Korea as the scientist explained that they would be the headquarters for all our ills. With the country’s  human rights records, isolationist policies and oppressive regime it then made one feel that having all these ridiculous TV shows, the desire to have things we don’t need, general social inequalities and economic cuts by comparison are not that bad and can be fixed.

While milling over all of that the film ended and a Q&A began as a tall man dressed in black, with black rimmed glasses and a clean-shaven head walked on stage. Taking the mic he told the audience he was the director and the film was made in New Zealand, where he himself is from. The Directors name is Slavko Martinov, from Christchurch in the South Island, this is his first film feature, which was being shown at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

In the interview when asked about the film Martinov said: “I had the idea in 2003 to make a film about propaganda and expose the tools of it that are all used against us. I thought I can’t just make a dry film about it, although it might be interesting, I wanted to make something really out there something no one had ever seen before. So I came up with the idea of an interceptive North Korean film that attacks western propaganda I thought that would be a great idea.”

Propaganda is shown in ten parts on Youtube with the whole film put up in July. Martinov said that he had and will mention after screenings of the film at venues that it was made by him and not a product of the North Korean state. So far there seems to be only one hitch in a real life twist with this clever thought out documentary. The actor who played the scientist in the film is wanted for questioning by the South Korean authorities because the they think he is a North Korean spy.

Check out our documentary on IDFA: “Four Days, Two Smartphones” which has the complete interview with Slavko Martinov as well as complete coverage of our time in Amsterdam.


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