Having seen “The Interview,” I’d rate it as good an artistic fit for the Berlin Film Festival as Klaus Nomi might have been for the half-time entertainment at a tractor pull. North Korean diplomats, however, aren’t widely esteemed for certain qualities — like, diplomacy, or diplomacy, academic rigor, or cultural sophistication. Consequently, when they heard that “The Interview” was to open in Germany on February 5th, they misunderstood that it was on the festival agenda. And they said this:
The North Korean statement issued Wednesday stated: “The screening of the movie that hurts the dignity of the supreme leadership of North Korea and openly agitates state-sponsored terrorism has nothing to do with the ‘freedom of expression’ touted by Germany. It is evidently agitation of terrorism quite contrary to the purpose and nature of the Berlin International Film Festival.” [Variety]
It ended: “The U.S. and Germany should immediately stop the farce of screening the anti-North Korean movie at the film festival. Those who attempt at terrorist acts and commit politically-motivated provocations and those who join them in violation of the sovereignty and dignity of North Korea will never be able to escape merciless punishment.” [Variety]
You can thank me for verifying that quote on KCNA, the Phuket back-alley ladyboy of the Internet, so you don’t have to. KCNA even compares “The Interview” to the Holocaust, which is a privilege they’re not entitled because … well, this would be one reason. And this would be another. And this (OK, you get the idea). Read it in full below the fold. It’s a thing of such blithe obliviousness that a certain childlike wonder soon washes over one’s sense of outrage.
You’d think that in these times, Europe would be unusually principled and protective of free expression. To sterner folk, the appropriate response would have been a gruff “Verpiss dich!,” and the prompt addition of “The Interview” to the festival agenda. To other Europeans, “Je Suis Charlie” is the safeword their dominatrix taught them, to be cried out in vain during a prison riot. That attitude describes the reaction of the German government, which summoned the head of the festival to give the Norks a polite explanation. Or so say the rheumy-eyed, snaggletoothed old Trotskyites at The Grauniad.
Festival head Dieter Kosslick was reportedly forced to meet with the North Korean ambassador to Germany to explain. A spokesperson told Variety the situation was now resolved and Pyongyang understood the comedy was not being screened at the Berlinale. [The Guardian]
His name is even Dieter. Delicious ….
No word as to whether the North Koreans were able to suppress their embarrassment quickly enough to demand that the film be declared verboten everywhere else in Germany.
There are signs, however, that North Korea is expanding its campaign to suppress “The Interview” globally. On January 16th, The New York Times reported that North Korean diplomats demanded that Burmese authorities seize any copies of “The Interview” they find. (The copies were bootlegged; this may have been the first thing North Korea has done in the last two months that Sony Pictures approved of.) On January 25th, The Bangkok Post reported that North Korea had asked Cambodia to ban sales of “The Interview.”
Now, I suppose it’s better for Nork diplos to be wasting their time on a movie than on rounding up child refugees to send back to reeducation camps. Still, one fears that when the ostensibly democratic world would rather define free expression down than stand up for it, precious few of us will have the testicular fortitude to say, “Je suis Park Sang-Hak.”
Pyongyang, January 21 (KCNA) — The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK released the following statement on Wednesday:
The U.S. and its vassal forces are becoming desperate in their moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.
According to a report, the U.S. recently presented to the Berlin international film festival the ill-famed and undesirable movie “The Interview” slandering the DPRK and fanning up terrorism.
Not content with reckless provocations, seized with morbid repugnancy and inveterate enmity toward the DPRK, the U.S. ruling quarters prodded a pseudo movie company into daring produce and distribute the movie hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. This lashed its army and people into great fury.
As the base and mean movie was unanimously rejected by the international movie circle and public, the U.S. made great haste to open it to public over internet. Now it is going to screen the movie at its vassal countries under the pretext of the participation in the international film festival.
When the gangster-like movie company came under hot cyber attack for producing the undesirable movie, the U.S. is keen to slap new “sanctions” against the DPRK by deliberately linking it with Pyongyang.
All facts prove that the U.S. has opted for extreme confrontation to stifle the DPRK politically, economically and militarily by hurting the supreme interests of the DPRK despite its repeated warnings.
The U.S. anti-DPRK actions are being conducted in all fields with every possible means and method involved. This is the most undisguised terrorist act and war actions against the sovereign state and it poses a serious threat to the peace in the region and the world.
Germany is joining the U.S. in these actions though the former took the lead in inflicting unspeakable misfortune, pain and disaster on humankind through two world wars.
History and humankind still vividly remember aggression, plunder and racial extermination including the massacre of Jews committed by Germany during the Second World War no matter how loudly it may talk about its postwar reparation.
Germany’s attitude to allow the screening of the undesirable movie while blindly following the U.S. cannot but be a dangerous act that can repeat its shameful history.
The screening of the movie that hurts the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and openly agitates state-sponsored terrorism has nothing to do with the “freedom of expression” touted by Germany. It is evidently agitation of terrorism quite contrary to the purpose and nature of the Berlin international film festival.
The allowance of the screening would make “freedom of expression” touted by the West freedom of hurting the inviolable dignity of other countries, freedom of encroaching upon their political view, religious belief and culture and freedom of violence and terrorism.
Encouraging and praising terrorism are considered to be crimes as monstrous as terrorism in Europe and it is a reality that the most of the European countries are seized with uneasiness and fear in the wake of the hideous terrorist acts that occurred in France and various other countries.
To screen the movie agitating terrorism in Europe at this time is a self-contradictory act that chills the atmosphere of combating terrorism growing strong in the whole of Europe.
Running high at present is the indignation of the army and people of the DPRK and their will to annihilate the U.S. and other hostile forces as their moves to dare do harm to the dignity and authority of the supreme leadership of the DPRK have reached an extreme phase.
Devotedly defending the leader is the supreme principle of the DPRK that can never change no matter how many times the world may change, and there can be neither deviation nor compromise in this principle.
The U.S. and Germany should immediately stop the farce of screening anti-DPRK movie at the film festival.
Those who attempt at terrorist acts and commit politically-motivated provocations and those who join them in violation of the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK will never be able to escape merciless punishment. -0-