Presented by an anonymous North Korean professor, this anti-Western propaganda film attacks the moral attenuation, political manipulation and hyper-consumerism that characterize the Western world. In chapters with titles like “Rewriting History,” “Advertising” and “The Cult of Celebrity,” we are treated to a lineup of the most embarrassing occidental excesses and globalization, the “psychological warfare” at the hands of multinationals, shopping-obsessed consumers and the failure of democracy. Then there’s time for the “Grab it!” culture of the one percent and additional moral deterioration in the form of Paris Hilton, unethical TV shows and violent movies and games. Toward the end of this propaganda piece, the role of North Korea in all of this becomes clear: the country would like to offer itself as headquarters for the mounting fight against consumer slavery and greed worldwide.
Propaganda is the world’s first propumentary. It was made by Slavko Martinov in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the help of friends who worked in secret for 9 years, with zero funding, through 2 major earthquakes, 10,000 aftershocks, accusations of North Korean collusion, an investigation by the South Korean government, an interview with the Counter-Terrorism Unit, and retaliation from the Catholic Church.
It topped Indiewire’s top 10 films to watch out for at IDFA 2012, where it had its world premiere. This was followed by The Independent declaring it ‘The real viral hit of 2012’ and Films for Action rated it their Number One film for 2012. In 2013, it was awarded a Special Mention at the Biografilm Festival in Italy, and this was followed by the US premiere at the Traverse City Film Festival, where Michael Moore awarded it the Founders Grand Prize for Best Picture.
Back Cover Copy:
Here is the formal statement I gave to federal police on 16 June 2012.
On a trip to visit family in Seoul in April, I was approached by a man and a woman who claimed to be North Korean defectors. They presented me with a DVD that recently came into their possession and asked me to translate it. They also asked me to post the completed film on the Internet so that it could reach a worldwide audience. I believed what I was told and an agreement was made to protect their identities (and mine).
Despite my concerns about what I was viewing when I returned home, I proceeded to translate and post the film on YouTube because of the film’s extraordinary content. I have now made public my belief that this film was never intended for a domestic audience in the DPRK. Instead, I believe that these people, who presented themselves as ‘defectors’ specifically targeted me because of my reputation as a translator and interpreter.
Furthermore, I now believe these people work for the DPRK. The fact that I have continued to translate and post the film in spite of this belief does not make me complicit in their intention to spread their ideology. I chose to keep posting this film because – regardless of who made it – I believe people should see it because of the issues it raises and I stand by my right to post it for people to share and discuss freely with each other.
I have translated this film, laid in English voice over and subtitles, and on legal advice have blurred the identity of the presenter and/or blacked out certain elements.