Why am I posting the trailer for Camp 14: Total Control Zone right after my interview with the director, Marc Wiese? That’s a good question, but only because I kind of hate this trailer and love the film. To answer, giving the trailer its own showcase will hopefully draw more eyes to it and therefore the documentary. Even if it’s a trailer that I find too revealing, too manipulative, too dubbed (the version I saw was entirely subtitled) and too simple. The film is better than this, I assure you.
Camp 14 is about Shin Dong-Huyk, the only known person to escape a North Korea labor camp. He was born there and had lived there until his escape, at which time he saw the world we know for the first time (it’s a bit of a Plato’s Cave situation). Now he travels that world, city to city, which must seem like science fiction locations to him, telling his story. And now it’s the greatest story of its kind put to documentary since Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Maybe better.
In addition, the film features a guard and an officer from the camps, both of whom have also “escaped” the system in a way (as Wiese told me, they never said why or how). Their testimonials are almost as stunning as Shin’s, but they’re also a lot more familiar if you’ve seen any war crime trial films. Still, there’s a more systemic issue with these guys. I have to admit, I probably won’t be able to laugh as much at The Red Chapel or any other North Korea doc again.
Really hoping this gets some kind of distribution. I’m certain it will at least be on the human rights fest circuit. See it when you can.
Camp 14 screens at the Toronto International Film Festival tonight and Sunday morning.