Kimjongilia

Non Fiction

Kimjongilia, one of the highlights in the documentary section of last year's Sundance Film Festival, will open March 19 at New York's Cinema Village, N.C. Heikin's feature debut will expand to additional urban markets during the spring and summer of 2010. 

The first film to fully focus on the humanitarian crisis in North Korea, N.C. Heikin's stylish and deeply moving documentary (executive produced by Mike Figgis and James Eagan) brings astonishing and previously unseen interviews with survivors of North Korea's vast and largely hidden prison camps.
 
It weaves together several testimonies, and daring escape stories, from concentration camp refugees, defectors and former Korean Army officers, artfully combining state-sponsored propaganda with footage of local musicians and original performance artists.
 
One of the film's subjects is the acclaimed pianist Kim Cheol-Woong, a man who was reported and punished for playing Richard Clayderman's well-known title "A Comme Amour" (L for Love) for his girlfriend. As a result, Cheol-Woong escaped North Korea and decided to try his luck in China. There, he ended up working as a servant for a poor Chinese family and was forced to protect his hands in his armpits when he was being beaten by the Chinese police in a raid.
 
This and many other heart-wrenching stories make Kimjongilia into an urgent condemnation of a political regime largely supported by the oppression of its people and their free speech.
 
Director N.C. Heikin studied dance and theatre at Sarah Lawrence College and immediately after graduation began working at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, with Wilford Leach and Andrei Serban, among others. Kimjongilia is her first documentary. It received a grant from the Sundance Institute documentary Film Program, and was invited to the Sundance Story & Edit Lab in June 2008.
 
Kimjongilia, the title of Ms. Heikin's documentary, is also the name of a hybrid flower created to celebrate Kim Jong-il's 46th birthday.