Your film takes place in Pyongyang, in North Korea: a mysterious rising water engulfs a city without disturbing the impressive artistic performances and activities going on there. How did you become interested in the country?
I was born in Romania under Ceausescu’s dictatorship. I remember dance ceremonies in honor of the regime and the Party congresses – all of which were shown on television. But those were the only things we could watch on tv; everything else was simply “white noise”. Later, I thought that that sort of thing had ceased to exist, but I discovered that in fact they were alive and well in North Korea, and that the Kim dynasty had taken them to even greater heights. It should come as no surprise then that Ceausescu was one of the best friends of Kim-Il-Sung, the grandfather of the current Kim, and founder of the Pyongyang regime. That is what initially sparked my interest in North Korea.
We shot them on location. The games are called Arirang, and their function is more propagandistic than sporting or artistic.
I can’t say much more than that we filmed on location and that it is almost impossible to use video, so in general you must make do with photos. But since I was principally interested in the statues in honor of Kim, that wasn’t too much of a problem. However, it is strictly forbidden to photograph or film anything outside of that – at the risk of being sent to a work camp for years…
The world you portray looks like a GIF that keeps going forever. It unshakably looks at itself – with paintings and reality blurring in their apparent ideals – unburdened by its own disappearance. Do you think your story represents the near future, or does the allegory already apply to the present?
Of course it’s allegorical.
Yes, they happen quite often. But last year was a drought.
Yes, water fascinates me. As much the image of water as its metaphorical charge.
I am also very interested in the technical aspects of recreating the movement of water through digital technology.
Aside from the images of the Arirang games, everything was done using computers.