Cecil B. DeMille is an American film legend. He directed classic movies of both silent and sound, including Cleopatra, The Ten Commandments, and The Greatest Show on Earth. The Golden Globes has an award for oustanding lifetime achievement in the world of entertainment named after him. Last year, Robert De Niro presented it to Martin Scorsese.
De Niro lavished praise on the American director of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas and concluded his commendation with, “I can’t help but think if times were a little different, how proud Cecil B. DeMille would’ve been to be honored with the Martin Scorsese Award.”
If the Golden Globes took place in North Korea, however, both acclaimed directors would receive the Kim Jong-il Award.
Turns out, the dictator of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a huge cinephile. In addition to owning a video library with over 20,000 titles (he’s particularly fond of slashers, Godzilla movies, and anything starring Elizabeth Taylor), Kim Jong-il wrote the definitive book On the Art of Cinema (in which he refers to himself as “Genius of the Cinema” and credits the Genius of the Cinema with conceiving the idea of multiple-camera setup), has over 11,890 film credits, built a film studio in Pyongyang, and kidnapped South Korean stars of the silver screen to act in early North Korean films. And thanks to Generalissimo’s state-sanctioned cult of personality, he’s revered by his people as the greatest director, producer, financier, costume maker, set designer, screenwriter, cameraman, and sound engineer that ever lived.
I just learned all this in the past 30 minutes after becoming slowly gripped by and then severely engrossed in The Vice Guide to Film: North Korea. Created and distributed by VBS.TV, the three-part series highlights Vice co-founder, Shane Smith’s state-mandated tour of North Korean monuments with a focus on the facade of a film industry in Pyongyang. It’s a helluva captivating look into what life would be like if Hollywood was headquartered in Oceania.
It’s also a reminder of the great pieces of journalism coming out of VBS. Smith and company started the broadband video network after growing tired of talking about “cocaine, whores, and denim” on the pages of Vice Magazine. They went on a mission to do “the real deal…not just the usual bullshit.”
And bullshit this ain’t. Give VBS.TV a few more years of producing content like The Vice Guide to Film and viewers won’t even realize it’s an offshoot of a popular hipster rag. Interested parties will discover Dos and Don’ts through the magazine’s affiliation with the online video network, not the other way around.