|Comrade Kim Goes Flying|
By Doug Cummings
Comrade Kim Goes Flying is one of the most unique and entertaining features at this year's Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The first fiction feature shot in North Korea and co-produced by both Western and North Korean companies, it sidesteps current political tensions to offer a spunky comedy about a female coal miner (Kim Yong Mi) who dreams of becoming a circus acrobat. The film screens Sunday, May 5 at 5:45 PM at CGV Cinemas.
A few days after its two female leads appeared on stage at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, its British co-producer, Nicholas Bonner, spoke with us about the production. Bonner has lived in Beijing for 20 years, where he operates Koryo Tours, an independent company that organizes travel and cultural exchanges with North Korea. He's been producing documentaries in the country for the last several years, but this is the first North Korean fictional film he's done.
How many features a year does North Korea produce?
Well, they say twenty but it's probably closer to ten to fifteen on 35mm. In the '80s it was more, but certainly in the '90s and '00s it was less, perhaps only three or four titles a year. Now that they've gone digital in the last year, they're making more; it's picking up again.
We started showing Comrade Kim Goes Flying in North Korea in February. Our North Korean producer emailed me and told me her neighbor saw it one day and went back the next to see it again. So if that's the test, it passed. It's now showing around the country.More »