FINLAND— NORTH-KOREA — SOUTH KOREA — CHINA
30 MIN, 2020
The Fantastic is a film about imagination and encountering the unknown.
North Korean exiles describe their experiences of watching forbidden foreign films. What did they imagine the world outside to be like on the basis of smuggled fiction films?
The Fantastic isn’t a film about North Korea. The film 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.
In addition to documentary footage the film includes visual effects.
Filmmaker from Helsinki. Her works lay between documentary and experimental film. The films include The Fantastic (2020), On Destruction and Preservation (2018), Golden Age (2015) and Saving the World (2005). She received the main prize at 57th Ann Arbor film festival 2019, the State Prize for the Media Arts in Finland in 2014 and was nominated for Ars Fennica award in 2017.
When we don’t know something and are lacking information, we tend to use our imagination to fill up the missing parts. I was interested in how a person who has lived in an environment of limited information sees and experiences the world.
North Korean people are rarely represented as individuals in documentaries. The way these people are represented is defined by their nationality, even by people who rarely classify others this way. As there is no information available on North Korean daily life, but instead propaganda on both sides, it creates prejudices and stereotypical expectations. I became interested in getting to know the individuals who have lived in such an environment of limited information.
The filmmaking process took over five years. The most demanding part was not to film in North Korea or finding the interviewees living now in South Korea, but instead it was how to deal with the stereotypical image we have created to ourselves towards people who have been previously living in North Korea. Also Korean language was demanding to work with and due to the isolation North Koreans have created words different from southern ones for items and phenomena created since the 50s.
Despite all the work, in the end, I am really happy that I made this film and got to know the characters and hear their stories. My world and understanding of human beings got again a little bit wider through this process. I hope it will be the same for the audience.
- DocPoint Helsinki
- Tampere Film Festival
- HotDocs Toronto
- Visions Du Reel Nyon
- Krakow Film Festival
DOKer 2020 — Short Competition