I Was an Extra in a North Korean Propaganda Film
As a visiting documentary filmmaker, I got a rare up-close look at Kim Jong Il’s fanciful film industry. Then they turned the cameras on me.
Illustration by Eric Diotte
In 2013, Australian documentarian Anna Broinowski was granted a rare chance to research North Korea’s cloaked and powerful propaganda film industry. Former supreme leader Kim Jong Il was obsessed with filmmaking, writing a manifesto on the subject while adapting western techniques to produce a diverse oeuvre of features, series and documentaries. Determined to stop a gas mine near her home, Broinowski decided to learn from the propaganda masters. She researched the industry and then made her own anti-fracking film in the North Korean style. The following chapter from her book “Aim High in Creation!” chronicles the bizarre final days of Broinowski’s North Korean film production boot camp, when she was unexpectedly cast as an “evil American wife” in a film about the 1968 capture of the U.S. spy ship, the Pueblo.