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THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT

Director: ROSS ADAM, ROBERT CANNAN

94 mins, UK, 2016, Digital, Subtitled


This film was released 30th September 2016, and is no longer screening.

★★★★★ The Nerdist

★★★★ The Guardian

EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI

The history of Hollywood is replete with bizarre tales, but for sheer strangeness few can match the one recounted in this gripping documentary that illuminates a dark chapter of Korean cinema lore. In 1978 North Korean dictator (and movie buff) Kim Jong-il kidnapped a famed South Korean celebrity couple – Shin Sang-ok, South Korea’s most prolific and esteemed film director and the head of a busy studio, and actress Choi Eun-hee, the lead in many of his films – hoping their star wattage would invigorate his burgeoning moviemaking empire.

As prisoners the couple made eight films together under Kim’s strict supervision before attempting a daring cloak-and-dagger escape to the west. A seamless blend of interview, recreation and archival footage, The Lovers and The Despot features rare recordings of the dictator, secretly taped by the captive lovers.

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