Finland, 2020 / 30 min / Korean & English OV with English subt. / Documentary
North Korean dissidents recount their experiences watching forbidden foreign films.
For a small minority of North Koreans, western films smuggled into the country on USB sticks and on video cassettes from the 1990s are the only window to a world outside of the Democratic People’s Republic. Based on conversations recorded in Seoul with former inhabitants of North Korea, accompanied by shots taken in the country, on the Chinese border, and in the demilitarised zone, Maija Blåfield evokes the way in which North Koreans have fantasised about the external world by secretly watching forbidden western fictional films. Without points of reference and without knowledge of the extent in which these fictional films reflect “reality”, the act of watching these illegal movies and the unknown, foreign world portrayed in them, plunges the North Koreans into deep incertitude.
The Fantastic is a film about encountering the unknown and the relationship between imagination and reality. Alternating documentary footage and visual effects, the film raises the question of how reality is defined and what we wish to believe in. It reverses the set-up where westerners are peeping in on the everyday life of the closed-off state. In this film, it is the North Koreans who direct their curiosity at the outside world and imagine what life in Western countries is like.
- Main Prize, Tampere Film Festival, 2020 (Finland)
- Best Documentary, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 2020 (United Kingdom)
- Best of the Festival Award, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 2020 (United Kingdom)
- Best Short Documentary, MakeDox Creative Documentary Film Festival, 2020 (Macedonia)
- Best Short Documentary, DOKer Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, 2020 (Russia)
Maija Blåfield is a Finnish artist and experimental documentary filmmaker, born in Helsinki in 1973. Her works often combine documentary and fictional elements in some way, exploring the fantastic side of our everyday life and digging up the stories behind contemporary events. She was granted the State Prize for Media Arts in 2014 and in 2017, and she was a nominee for the Ars Fennica contemporary art award. Her works have been screened at various international festivals, on television, and in art museums. Her short film On Destruction and Preservation won the Best of the Festival Ken Burns Award at the 57th Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2019. The Fantastic (2020) is her latest short. It already won prices and screened at several international film festivals.
- 2020 – The Fantastic (documentary short )
- 2018 – Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä (documentary short)
- 2015 – Kulta-aika (documentary short)
- 2011 – Jos minut olisi haudattu kadunkulmaan (documentary short)
- 2007 – Kun taivas putoaa...remake (documentary short)
- 2005 – Maailmaa Pelastamassa (documentary short)