Bringing an egocentric but telling perspective to the subject of North Korea’s isolation, Claude Lanzmann (Shoah) revisits Pyongyang to explore the significance of a romantic encounter that has haunted him for 60 years.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
In 1958 Claude Lanzmann, the future director of Shoah, joined a western delegation of young communists to visit North Korea. Sixty years later he returns, looking beyond the displays of national confidence that greet all visitors to explore the historical resonance of a lost love.
“At 91 years and counting, venerable documentary filmmaker Claude Lanzmann still has it in him to both inform and go against convention… Not that this combination travel diary and personal recollection in any way champions the regime of Kim Jong-un and his predecessors, but it does give us a good idea of how North Korea became what it is, and why it is unlikely to change anytime soon…
Lanzmann may definitely be in love with his own voice… but he’s also a supreme storyteller who has relied on first-hand accounts throughout his career to bear witness to some of the darkest periods in modern history. In Napalm he uses his own experience to fuel the narrative… What results is a unique look at a place and people who we have mostly known through news reports or government propaganda, but rarely in movies through such a human point of view.” — Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter