The Juche Idea

Directed by Jim Finn

Release Year: 2008
Running Time: 62
Color Type: Color
Country: U.S.
Language: Korean, Bulgarian, and English with English subtitles [audio]
Subjects: Asian Studies
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Screening Info
Cast
Oleg Mavromatti
Kim Sung
Daniela Kostova
Jung Yoon Lee

Crew
Composed by Neung Phak and Pauline Oliveros
Directed by Jim Finn

Jim Finn's The Juche Idea is an uproarious and provocative deconstruction of North Korean propaganda and philosophy. Mixing together eye-popping archival footage with deadpan re-enactments, Finn has created a complex docu-fiction that is equally thought-provoking and entertaining. Translated as self-reliance, Juche (CHOO-chay) is a hybrid of Confucian and Stalinist thought that Kim Jong-il adapted from his father and applied to the entire culture. In The Juche Idea, a sympathetic South Korean filmmaker visits a North Korean artists' colony to bring Juche ideas into the 21st century. She ends up producing hilariously stilted shorts, including a nonsensical sci-fi story and the enigmatic "Dentures of Imperialism."

Inspired by the true story of how a South Korean director was kidnapped in the 70s to invigorate the North's movie industry, The Juche Idea is both sardonic satire and historical excavation, an exuberant collage that reveals the absurdity at the heart of Kim-Jong-il's regime.

Educational Reviews

"A deadpan critique of the ideology of juche, often very funny but with a serious point to make. Recommended." -Video Librarian

Critical Acclaim

"Like a Saturday Night Live sketch devoted to Kim Jong-il." - Mike Hale, The New York Times

"Steeped in the obsolete language of revolutionary art, Mr. Finn's meticulous, deadpan mockumentaries often play like unearthed artifacts from an alternate universe." - Dennis Lim, THE NEW YORK TIMES

"The evidence that current filmmaking is brimming with original, standard-breaking creations has to include the work of Jim Finn, whose brilliant 'The Juche Idea'... effectively completes a trilogy of ultra-compact features that boldly upturn notions of documentary and fiction, propaganda thought, reality and restaging, and even what an 'experimental film' actually is. To say that these films open up new possibilities for satire, ideas and language isn't an overstatement." - Robert Koehler, VARIETY

Awards

  • WINNER: Best Narrative Feature, Chicago Underground Film Festival 2008

    CLOSING NIGHT FILM: New York Underground Film Festival 2008

    HONORABLE MENTION: Ann Arbor Film Festival 2008

    OFFICIAL SELECTION: Vancouver International 2008

    OFFICIAL SELECTION: Edinburgh 2008

Trailer EMB