It’s sometimes said that inspiration can arise from the most unlikely of sources. For documentary filmmaker Anna Broinowski, inspiration came in the form of Dear Leader Kim Jong il. Specifically, his manifesto The Cinema and Directing.
Anna decided to make a short anti-fracking film that followed the Dear Leader’s rules of propaganda filmmaking. This film served as her entrée into the North Korean film industry, and was the centrepiece for her documentary Aim High in Creation!, which chronicled the whole madcap experience.
Anna’s book The Director is the Commander is the outermost layer of the nesting doll, telling the ‘making of’ story of the documentary.
We spoke for half an hour, bonding over our fascination with and travels to the hermit kingdom. In Part 1 of our conversation, we discuss how Anna’s short film came to be, North Korean cinema, and Anna’s comradeship with the North Korean filmmakers she spent three weeks with. In Part 2 we talk about glimpsing the “real” North Korea and how the experience of being in the country is imbued with a Truman Show-like quality – but not for the reasons you’d expect.
The Director is the Commander is written by Anna Broinowski and published by Penguin.
Interview broadcast on ArtSound FM.
Interview air date: 27 June and 4 July 2015.