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Home The Lovers And The Despot- In Theaters September 23rd

The Lovers And The Despot- In Theaters September 23rd

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The Lovers And the Despot

THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT tells the story of young, ambitious South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee, who met and fell in love in 1950s post-war Korea. In the 70s, after reaching the top of Korean society following a string of successful films, Choi was kidnapped in Hong Kong by North Korean agents and taken to meet Kim Jong-il.

Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok in THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok in THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

While searching for Choi, Shin also was kidnapped, and following five years of imprisonment, the couple was reunited by the movie-obsessed Kim, who declared them his personal filmmakers. Choi and Shin planned their escape, but not before producing 17 feature films for the dictator and gaining his trust in the process.

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They were the Brangelina of ’70s South Korea—the romance between the debonair film director Shin Sang-ok and glamorous actress Choi Eun-hee took them to the heights of South Korean society. Fame took a toll on their love, but it also attracted unbelievable twists of fate. The two find themselves kidnapped by the North Korean regime, and they are forced to play along with a bizarre filmmaking project led by superfan cinephile Kim Jong-il. Enduring torture, imprisonment, and surveillance, their romance is rekindled, and they realize escape is only possible through filmmaking—but the smallest mistake in their plans could cost them their lives.

This film noir of the most twisted order is meticulously crafted with an analog-loving sensibility, offering incredible archive footage of the era that even includes rare clandestine audio recordings of Jong-il discussing his plot for a cinematic paradise. The tapes deliver a chilling yet fascinating glimpse into the psychology of the North Korean dictatorship and what happens when art, love, and megalomania collide.

 

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