Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"North Korean" Propaganda Exposes American Hypocrisy

By Eric Brothers (C) 2014
Poster for "North Korean" film, Propaganda (2012).

Controversial to its core, this hard-hitting anti-Western propaganda film, which looks at the influence of American visual and consumption culture on the rest of the world from a North Korean perspective, has also been described as ‘either a damning indictment of 21st Century culture or the best piece of propaganda in a generation.’

A propaganda film about American hypocrisy that was made in North Korea? Huh?!  Really?

The film "Propaganda" covers the gamut of American culture from consumerism to celebrity culture; it also exposes contemporary Western culture for its its decidedly un-democratic imperialist and pro-corporate policies.  Released in ten parts in 2012, "Propaganda" was uploaded piece by piece with the title "North Korean film exposes Western propaganda." It was eventually accompanied by a statement, by Sabine, the woman who translated the film.

According to Sabine, while on a trip to Seoul, South Korea, in 2012, she was approached by two people claiming to be defectors from North Korea. Handing her a DVD, they asked Sabine to translate it and then place it on the Internet.  Due to what she called "the film's extraordinary content," she willingly translated it and then posted it on You Tube. She felt that the film was never intended for a North Korean audience. Additionally, Sabine believed that the people who gave the DVD to her work for the North Korean government. She does not agree with that nation's ideology, however, but chose to post it in its entirety "because of the issues it raises and I stand by my right to post it for people to share and discuss freely with each other."

 Interview with "Propaganda" Filmmaker Slavko Martinov.

"North Korean" film made by New Zealand filmmakers

But the cat was let out of the bag when "Propaganda" had a screening at the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA).  This "North Korean" cinematic attack on the West was the work of a group of New Zealanders; it was written and directed by Slavko Martinov. Therefore the film is a piece of supposed North Korean propaganda made by New Zealand filmmakers showing their take on how North Korea would attack Western values and culture, while presenting their own personal views on the subject.

According to a review in The Independent, "Early scenes show audiences on Oprah moved to hysterics and tears after receiving free consumer goods, and a man applauded by crowds and interviewed on the street after being the first person to buy a new iPhone. These pictures set up the in-depth criticism of a culture of people who are raised in fear of communism and terrorism, and who seek salvation through the empty promises of religion and capitalism. We are then warned to beware the one per cent, who through the mass propaganda machine known as ‘the public relations industry’, attempt to brainwash people into trusting brands with empty slogans like “Just Do It” and “I’m Loving It”. Meanwhile, the mainstream media utilises the films of Quentin Tarantino, and the TV Series Survivor, to portray the world as a violent place where only the most ruthless succeed."

 Watch Part 9 of "Propaganda" to see chapter on celebrities.

"Think Triumph of the Will meets The Blair Witch Project," writes the reviewer of the Huff Post's blog.  "It's a North Korean propaganda film, through and through -- alarmingly authentic and disturbingly precise, down to the comic bluntness (reality TV as "freak show programming" about "narcissistic parasites") and hyperbolic paternalism (tween marketing as "corporate pedophilia"). The film takes aim at advertising, war, TV, consumerism, taxes -- all of our American bogeymen. What's most stunning, though, is how often the film gets it right."

Filmmaker Slavko Martinov on "Propaganda"

During an interview published online at IndieWire, Slavko Martinov said, 

"First of all, it's the most unsharable film you can imagine.  Ninety-five minutes of being slapped about the face of your core beliefs as a Westerner.  You're hardly going to be popular with your friends if you share this. ...  

We were investigated by the NAS -- South Korea's CIA. I was asked, 'Are you in collusion with the North Korean regime?'  I started writing and researching at this point -- I started guiding them through the process.  'Yeah, but prior to 2003, when were you contacted and commissioned to do this[?]'  What do you say to that?  How do you even deny that logic.  To them, what really worried them was that North Korea had stepped up their game, they had hired a western filmmaker to make a PR coup." 

"Propangada": Award-winning and life-changing film

The film, which took nine years to complete, won numerous awards at film festivals, including the Grand Prize for Best Film award at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, an invite-only annual festival co-founded and curated by Oscar-winning director, Michael Moore.  

It was reported in the New Zealand publication The Press that in February, engineer Eugene Chang from Christchurch, New Zealand, who narrated and acted in the film, was shunned by his South Korean community and accused of being a North Korean sympathiser and spy. Upon winning the award, Slavko Martinov told The Press that the award win was a "great help" for Chang and could lead to greater things for the Christchurch production crew, Sabineprogram. "It is a great help for Eugene, this award, because everyone here knows how he's been treated and stand by him in a big way," Martinov said.

Eugene Chang, who performed in "Propaganda" and was ostracized by the Korean community in Christchurch, NZ.
Perhaps this blog has stimulated your interest and you would like to watch "Propaganda" in its entirety.  Well, today is your lucky day.  Below please find the film that Films for Action called the "Number 1 Social Change Documentaries of 2012."
The film "Propaganda" in its entirety. 

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