Juche Film Series
at 51 3rd Street in lucky Troy, New York
Sunday February 11 (7pm): Double Feature: Four
Seasons of Pyongyang & Urban Girl
Comes to Get Married
Sunday February 25 (7pm): Marathon Runner
Sunday March 11 (7pm): Pulgasari
Sunday March 25 (7pm): Girls from My Hometown
Sunday April 1 (7pm): Double Feature: Million
Man Parade & Arirang Mass Games
Juche (chuch'e) is Kim Il Sung’s
philosophy based on Marxism, Confucianism, and self-reliance. It became
the official ideology of North Korea during the 60s when the Cultural
Revolution Maoists were calling North Korea a revisionist state, the Soviets
considered it a Stalinist state, and the U.S. was technically (and still
is) at war with it. In the 80s to smooth the transition of power Juche
developed into a family cult to include his son Kim Jong Il. After the
father's death in Juche 82 (1994), his first wife and Kim Jong Il’s
mother Kim Jong Suk was also included in the pantheon. Juche is about
community, serving and respecting the state and not being tempted by the
sneaky capitalist ideology of individualism or the temptation of revisionism.
Watch for the little Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il buttons that everyone
wears like American politicians with their flag pins.
The films are pretty amazing:
Socialist realist musical melodrama. In some ways, they are like Stalinist
Lifetime movies for women, but the stories always have strange
twists. The drama of a feature film is well suited to express the Marxist
dialectic of the struggle of class contradictions. There is always a new
setback and the only way to solve it is through the collective wisdom
of the people or through the example of the hardest working man in socialism,
the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il who is the James Brown, Jesus and Richard
Nixon of North Korea.
The schedule for the series
will be roughly every other Sunday except for the April screenings. This
could change so check the website. The admission cost is 50
cents. There will be a plastic pig on the piano—please place
the money in the pig. Popcorn and a chair are provided with the entrance
cost but please bring your own liquid refreshments.
For the opening of the series,
we'll have a double feature in honor of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il's birthday.
Later in the spring, we will have something special for the Great Leader
and Eternal President Kim Il Sung's birthday as well—known in the
capitalist imperialist U.S. as tax day: April 15. On this day in 1912
Kim Il Sung was born (and the Titanic sunk). That was Year One in the
Juche Calendar. So 2007 is known in the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea as Juche 95 though generally they put the Western year afterwards
In capitalist society
the director is shackled by the reactionary governmental policy
of commercializing the cinema and by the capitalists' money, so
that he is a mere worker who obeys the will of the film-making
industrialists whether he likes it or not. In socialist society,
by contrast, the director is an independent and creative artist
who is responsible for the quality of the cinema to the Party
and the people. Therefore, in the socialist system of film-making,
the director is not a mere worker who makes films but the commander,
the chief who assumes full responsibility for everything, ranging
from the film itself to the political and ideological life of
those who take part in film-making.
ON THE ART OF CINEMA, Kim Jong Il, Juche 77 (1989)
FEBRUARY 11 (7:00PM):
First up is Pyongyang in Four Seasons, a 37-minute documentary
about the wonders of the North Korean capital. Rebuilt after the
US bombs completely demolished it during the Korean War, it has
become the showplace for the government. Unfortunately, many of
the most impressive buildings are either empty or sparsely populated.
It is a sort of massive Potemkin village since the citizens of
Pyongyang are basically the best off in the state. Besides the
military and party elite, the urbanites generally come from families
with good revolutionary or at least class backgrounds
main feature is a Juche romantic comedy called Urban Girl Comes
to Get Married (80 min, 1992) about a girl from Pyongang who
visits the countryside and falls in love with a duck farmer. Highlights
include the amazing theme song and a lounge-rock bonfire jam. A
bit slow and strangely filmed with many zooms, the film —made
by students at Kim Il Sung University with the guidance of their
professors—does impart real emotion and you do find yourself
loving the strange duck-loving country folk. Kim Jong Il claims
this is one of his favorite North Korean films. His love affair
with Bond films reportedly came to an end when Pierce Brosnan ran
amok in the DPRK.
Like the leading
article of the Party paper, the cinema should have great appeal
and move ahead of the realities. Thus, it should play a mobilizing
role in each stage of the revolutionizing struggle.
KIM IL SUNG
FEBRUARY 25 (7:00PM):
Marathon Runner (80 min, 2002), a favorite film of the
Dear Leader, was reportedly personally commissioned by him. It tells
the true and very recent story of a women's marathon runner who
did not win at the Atlanta Olympics. During a post-Olympic criticism
session she blames her bad coaching and is then banished to the
countryside to haul rocks with the communist peasants. The coach
comes back and self-critically accepts her criticism and then the
word comes that Kim Jong Il wants the whole team back again for
the World Championships in Athletics in Seville. But struggle is
necessary to the Juche film and so it gets harder and harder but
the ending which may or may not involve a nuclear weapon is quite
We will show a couple of Military Karaoke videos before the feature.
Perhaps the real reason the Bushies negotiated an aid deal
with North Korea.
One day an official
of the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea was informed
by an official of a film studio that an actor suddenly fell into
a critical condition... The utmost efforts were made to resuscitate
the actor who was marked by modern medicine for death. Meanwhile,
Comrade Kim Jong Il telephoned the hospital every few minutes
to get to know how the actor was being treated. He also obtained
the best medicines and sent them.
Comrade Kim Jong
Il's love was so great as to enable flowers to bloom even on stones
and old trees. It turned into an elixir of life and finally snatched
the actor from the jaws of death.
The actor is now
on the wrong side of 60, but is so hale and hearty at present
that he appears well on the screen. He takes every opportunity
"When I left
Seoul during the Korean war, my mother gave me nothing but a packet
of soda, worrying about my stomach disorder. But Comrade Kim Jong
Il restored me to life again when I was at death's door. I was
reborn under his care."
ANECDOTES: GREAT MAN AND CINEMA, Juche 86 (1998)
MARCH 11 (7:00PM):
Pulgasari (93 min, 1985) is known as the North Korean
Godzilla. Instead of an atomic beast bent on mayhem, we have a
medieval creature shaped from bean curd and rice by an imprisoned
blacksmith. Add a drop of his beautiful daughter's blood and all
the metal the creature can eat and it grows to help the oppressed
peasants overthrow the corrupt rule of a Koryo Dynasty king. The
story behind the film is even more amazing. The director Shin
San Ok was kidnapped from South Korea along with his movie star
wife Choi Eun Hie on the orders of Kim Jong Il. The Dear Leader
was unhappy with the state of cinema in the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea and wanted the South Korean director to inject
new life. He made films under a benevolent house arrest for 8
years until they escaped in 1986. Pulgasari was his last
North Korean film and was not yet released when he fled so they
changed the name of the director.
Actors, too, should
explore reality. Otherwise, they cannot accurately represent new
characters in line with how people are changing and developing.
KIM IL SUNG
MARCH 25 (7:00PM):
Girls from my Hometown (85 min, 1997) takes on a critical
issue in Juche cinema: the disabled soldier. In this tale a happy
country girl is singing in the woods with her friends when she hears
an accident has blinded her soldier boyfriend. She refuses to see
him and listens instead to her sister who has recently traveled
abroad and has ideas of individualism. Her best friend takes it
upon herself to take care of the soldier but he won't have it: the
struggle begins! There is amazing music and women running after
a bus waving (a common image in North Korean movies). But it's not
just about lovers—all the women of the village are being shamed
by the selfishness of one girl. A classic Juche melodrama with an
amazing ad hoc criticism session at the finale.
Films without music
and song hardly deserve to be called films. A film without songs
gives one a feeling of loneliness and is tantamount to a play
with only dialogue. A truly fine film which will appeal to the
people, must always have good songs.
KIM IL SUNG
APRIL 1 (7:00PM):
We will end the series with two films about the mass movement
exercises that take place in North Korea. One of the ways the
Kims have been able to maintain the state in a Juche mindset is
through collective movement training. The precise movements of
the military in Million Man Parade (48 minutes, 2003)
are shown on US nightly news but not usually the flower-wielding
women. The English narration is odd and charmingly manly.
This is one week after the March 25 screening.
Arirang Mass Games (36 min, 1999) are unique to the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea. Gymnasts with communist yoga balls and
Kim Il Sung's smiling face on thousands of cards being turned at
once to portray a pistol and ammunition clip. This is not CGI, folks.
It's live action, and to get this many people to be in synch takes
a lot of work and uses up a lot of excess energy that could be spent
idly. This is in honor of the Eternal President's belated birthday
who would be 95 this April.
The Juche film series was
curated by Jim Finn in the winter/spring of Juche 95 (2007) under the
loving guidance of Rich Pell and with the great appreciative help of Jung
Yoon Lee, Igor Vamos, Jesse Stiles, Chris Skinner, Cat Mazza and anyone
else who vacuums, moves chairs, and heats popcorn.