English and Korean with English subtitles
South Korea, USA, Portugal
SONGS FROM THE NORTH
By Soon-Mi Yoo
…the revolutionary state of North Korea was born out of songs — the songs the country’s founding leader sang in his arduous march to National Liberation — and these songs are the soul and pulse beats of the Kim Il Sung generation.
– Rodong Sinmun, 6 April 2007 (official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea)
Songs From the North is an essay film that turns its gaze upon the people of North Korea, a country typically seen through the lens of derisive satire and jingoistic propaganda. South Korean director Soon-Mi Yoo interweaves footage of her visits to North Korea with its music, mass spectacles, popular cinema, paintings and historical archives, seeking to understand the national psyche and coping mechanisms from their perspective. Her penetrating explorations offer a rare glimpse into the political ideology of absolute love for Leader and Party which continues to drive the nation towards its uncertain future.
Once guided by revolutionary zeal to create a truly equal society, North Korea's master narratives now stem from the memory of suffering inflicted by imperialist powers, and the necessary struggle for independence. The film observes how these narratives permeate every area of life: they are the inspiration for the country’s art, the content of state television and radio broadcasts, the political logic for nuclear war, and the script for day-to-day living. Challenging caricature, this multidimensional portrait of North Korea testifies to the enduring power of a heroic ideal and the genuine emotion with which its people sing. It is perhaps these conditions that make survival possible.
Songs from the North premiered at the 67th Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland, 2014), where it won the prestigious Golden Leopard for Best First Feature. It also won the Best First Feature-Length Film Award at the 12th Doclisboa (Portugal, 2014), and the Special Jury Prize at the 17th BAFICI (Argentina, 2015).
Soon-Mi Yoo (b. 1962) is known for her avant-garde and essayistic non-fiction films. After studying German Literature at Yonsei University, she earned a MFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Arts where she is currently Chair of the Film/Video department. Her works have been shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Harvard Film Archive. Songs From the North is her first feature film.
English and Korean with English subtitles
Approximately 73 minutes
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- Rating: PG
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