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Kimjongilia (DVD Review)

6 Oct, 2010 By: Miko Revereza

Street 10/12/10
Kino Lorber
Box Office $0.004 million
$29.95 DVD
Not rated.

N.C. Heikin’s chilling documentary Kimjongilia: The Flower of Kim Jong Il offers new insights on North Korean hardships. The film presents an entirely different look at life from the inside through the testimonials of escapees and defectors. Without seeming to sensationalize an international threat or create counter-propaganda toward the country, Heikin compassionately reveals a growing human rights disaster.

The film is grounded in the six individuals who risk their lives to share these first-hand experiences of their homeland. Their stories of hunger, forced labor, escape and human trafficking abroad is a missing human perspective of the atrocities taking place in this territory.

In the film, dated propaganda is a constantly reappearing device to reference time and history. Cheesy jingle-driven commercials about North Korea’s prospering farmlands feel sweet and lighthearted but the reality behind the façade is famine, food shortages and mass starvation. More so, the footage of North Korea’s mass games incorporating tens of thousands of brilliantly choreographed participants filling a stadium never falls short of amazing, if not terrifying.

Some standout creative touches to the film are the animated propaganda collages, interpretive dance sequences and original screen music by Michael Gordon. Cinematographer Kyle Saylors does a brilliant job creating a visual style and disclosing the interviewees’ identities by sticking with extreme close ups on their most expressive facial features.

Although this film can be a haunting reminder of the inhumane capacity of human nature, the stories of the survivors are a true testament of hope and determination toward change.

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