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The Lies Have It 

Wednesday, Apr 28 2010
The once-impervious wall separating documentary and fiction crumbles a little more each day, with most of the blows inflicted by reality TV. Fine by us, as long as the cracks in the crassly cynical illusion nudge at least a few American couch zombies into half-awake, semicritical viewers. Admittedly, it’s a long shot that they’ll eventually become fans of creative essayists, mock documentarists, and appropriated-history provocateurs like Chris Marker, Johan Grimonprez, and Jim Finn. Then again, Finn has a secret weapon. “If you have the ability to make people laugh, that’s basically the equivalent of grabbing someone by the balls in the film world,” he declares. “If you can make someone laugh out loud multiple times, that is fucking gold.” The Juche Idea, Finn’s latest masterful volley in his ongoing cinematic guerrilla war on both the fiction-nonfiction demarcation and political misinformation, tackles North Korea’s cherished philosophy of totalitarian self-reliance. The one-hour film centers on a South Korean videomaker who eagerly accepts a residency in North Korea, only to find that artistic freedom is the price for room-and-board security. She quickly adapts, though, turning out a batch of guffaw-provoking movies. Per usual, the Other Cinema show includes a variety of pointedly related miscellany, including a chunk of a 1964 Chinese propaganda film touting that country’s first successful hydrogen-bomb test. Who’s laughing now?
Sat., May 1, 8:30 p.m., 2010

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Michael Fox


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