Australian Filmmaker Makes N.Korean Style Documentary

      September 11, 2018 14:04

      Australian film director Anna Broinowski has deliberately subjected herself to stringent restrictions for a documentary in an experiment that must be unique in Western film.

      She told a press event in Seoul on Monday she wanted to make a propaganda film North Korean style based on a textbook written by film fan Kim Jong-il.

      The result was her 2013 documentary "Aim High in Creation," for which she picked up an old book called "The Cinema and Directing" ostensibly written by the former North Korean leader in 1987. It was given to her by a friend who had found it on a visit to Pyongyang.

      Broinowski herself visited Pyongyang in September 2012 for three weeks, capturing people involved in the local film industry. Her stated aim was to make an anti-fracking movie in the style of a North Korea propaganda film in a bid to stop attempts to extract gas from shale deposits in Sydney.

      Australian film director Anna Broinowski (center) talks with a North Korean official in Pyongyang. /Courtesy of DocForest

      But the documentary is really about Broinowski's journey of learning the techniques of North Korean propaganda. She said she wanted to break away from the old Western perspective on North Korea and portray the human side of the country's people.

      "I'm a filmmaker and my message is one of humanitarianism. Building a cultural bridge about a country that is really seen just in black and white by the West and I wanted to find the color," she said.

      North Korean filmmaking reminds her of the Italian neorealism of the 1950s, using German film cameras rather than digital ones.

      Broinowski faced many obstacles in shooting films in North Korea and spent almost two years getting permission to shoot the film. Officials scrutinized every angle and demanded to see the hard disk before she left the country.

      Born in Tokyo, Broinowski spent her youth in South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam as her father was a diplomat who eventually became Australian ambassador to South Korea.

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