Filmmaker N.C. Heikin, Professor Ronnie Littlejohn to lead discussion on North Korea, Kim Jong II immediately following film
On Wed., Oct. 13, Belmont University will host a screening of the award-winning and powerfully revealing feature-length documentary Kimjongilia, an unblinking indictment of life in North Korea under the dictatorship of Kim Jong II. The screening, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 6 p.m. in the Massey Boardroom on the fourth floor of Belmont’s Jack C. Massey Business Center.
Filmmaker N.C. Heikin will be joined by Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, chair of Belmont’s Philosophy department, to lead a Q&A session a the conclusion of the screening, which occurs less than a week before the exclusive television premiere of the film on Documentary Channel® (DOC) on Sun., Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Executive produced by James Egan and Mike Figgis and presented by Documentary Channel, Kimjongilia is a searing examination of the totalitarian dictatorship established by Kim II-sung and continued today by his son Kim Jong-il. It dispels the illusion of a Worker’s Paradise peddled by the North Korean government and exposes the injustice and oppression of an entire nation over the past 40 years. Director Heikin compiles a series of extraordinary testimonies, and daring escape stories, from concentration camp refugees, defectors and former Korean Army officers. The result is a collage of firsthand witnesses to the unrepentant pain caused by the tyrannical leadership.
All of the interviews featured took place in South Korea, where the defectors now live. Their testimonies are juxtaposed with interpretive dance and a riveting score, indicative of the film’s keen interest in Korean art, both the propagandistic kind sanctioned by the government and the sort of artistic expression that results in execution by the state. This practice of exposing the truth through irony extends to the documentary’s title: Kimjongilia, the name of the rarefied hybrid red begonia flower created to celebrate Kim Jong-il’s 46th birthday.
“I wanted to expose the staggering crimes against humanity taking place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” said director Heikin, whose documentary won “Best Film” honors at the 2010 One World Film Festival and was nominated for a World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. “I developed the deepest respect for these survivors, rebuilding their lives but willing to share their painful pasts. The result is a film that may push the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, but hopefully never diminishes the tremendous emotional power of these courageous refugees.”
Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn, chair of Belmont’s department of philosophy and director of Asian Studies, said, “To most Americans, North Korea and its leadership lie deep in the shadows and are little understood. Belmont is pleased to partner with the Documentary Channel to bring to the Nashville community the documentary, Kimjongilia, which is a bold and informative examination of life in the society constructed by Kim Il-sung and continued today by his son Kim Jong-il.”
Documentary Channel is primarily available through satellite television services DISH Network (Channel 197) and DIRECTV (Channel 267). In addition to the Belmont screening and in conjunction with the U.S. television premiere on DOC, Kimjongilia will be featured in additional theatrical screenings on Sun., Oct. 17 in Los Angeles (USC’s George Lucas Building), as well as Thurs., Oct. 14 and Sun., Oct. 17 in Pleasantville, N.Y. (Jacob Burns Center).
Kimjongilia will be released nationally on DVD through all major online retail outlets on Tuesday, Oct. 19, including the film’s official web site at www.kimjongiliathemovie.com, the filmmaker’s blog at www.kimjongilia.myfilmblog.com and the Documentary Channel Store at www.documentarychannel.com/store.
About Documentary Channel
Documentary Channel (DOC) is the USA’s first 24-hour television network exclusively devoted to documentary films and the independent documentary filmmaker, providing viewers with round-the-clock opportunities to see fascinating, eclectic and award-winning documentary films of all lengths and genres. For more information on DOC, visit www.documentarychannel.com.