Directed by Jim Finn • Documentary • 2008 • 62 minutes
In the late 1960's Kim Jong Il guaranteed his succession as the Dear Leader of North Korea by adapting his father's Juche (pronounced choo-CHAY) philosophy to propaganda, film and art. Translated as self-reliance, Juche is a hybrid of Confucian and authoritarian Stalinist pseudo-socialism. The film is about a South Korean video artist who comes to a North Korean art residency to help bring Juche cinema into the 21st century. Inspired by the real-life story of the South Korean director kidnapped in the 70's to invigorate the North Korean film industry, the film follows Yoon Jung Lee, a young video artist invited to work at a Juche art residency on a North Korean collective farm. The story is told through the films she made at the residency as well as interviews with a Bulgarian filmmaker and even a brief sci-fi movie.
"…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