Monday, October 15, 2012

"Nothing to Envy" - Barbara Demick's portrait of North Korea now an animated feature film

Journalists tell stories. Literally. Barbara Demick is a journalist who tells stories, but with literary value, and without the sensationalistic twist that usually comes with "storytelling". She truly cares about humans, but she also wants to know the big picture, to get the historical perspective, to pull the hidden threads, and to disperse the smokescreens.

Composed around testimonies of North Korean defectors, her award winning book "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" (2009) is a great work of journalism and a great work of literature, at the same time moving and sobering, gripping and timeless. A non-fiction "1984" combined with a non-fiction "Love in the time of Juche", and a unique portrait of the most elusive country on Earth.

Ultimate triumph over North Korean propaganda: the title echoed a 1970 propaganda movie and song, "We have nothing to envy in the World", and now, "Nothing to Envy" the book will be adapted in an animated movie. The first teaser sets the tone:

An unconvenient truth. Nothing to compare with recent PR efforts representing the North Korean movie industry under a very positive angle. You probably heard about the suspicious "Comrade Kim Goes Flying": released at the Toronto Film Festival (ahead of the Pyongyang International Film Festival - a.k.a. the other PIFF from across the DMZ), this European fiction that wasn't shot in 3D, but with rose-colored glasses.

"Nothing to Envy" the film is directed by Andy Glynne and animated by Salvador Maldonado for Mosaic Films, a specialist in animated documentaries.

If you believe animation is a problem because it introduces some distance with reality, particularly since some names have already been changed in the book to protect the interviewees, think about such timeless classics as "Maus" or "Persepolis". This is the only way of showing what can't be filmed, this is the best way of allowing a larger audience to hear the moving voices and stories revealed in Barbara Demick's work.

Like the book, the movie can become a milestone in the representation of North Korea. But this key project needs your support:
- Check the website:
- Stay tuned and join the Facebook page:
- Contribute to the fundraising campaign launched earlier this month:

And of course, read more stories from Barbara*.

Seoul Village 2012
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* About Barbara Demick:
- Beijing Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times (since 2007)
- Seoul Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times (2001-2007)
- Foreign Correspondant in the Middle East, Philadelphia Enquirer (1997-2001)
- Foreign Correspondant in Eastern Europe, Philadelphia Enquirer (1993-1997)
On Facebook:
On Twitter: @BarbaraDemick
- "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" (2009 -
- "Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood" (1996)

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