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Liberation Day (2016)

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ALL ART IS PROPAGANDA. George Orwell ...AND ALL PROPAGANDA IS ART. Laibach

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Credited cast:
Boris Benko ...
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Tomaz Cubej ...
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Milan Fras ...
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Janez Gabric ...
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Tomislav Gangl ...
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Matej Gobec ...
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Primoz Hladnik ...
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Luka Jamnik ...
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Mary Sun Kim ...
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Rok Lopatic ...
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Gregor Musa ...
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Ivan Novak ...
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Saso Pusnik ...
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Mina Spiler ...
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Morten Traavik ...
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Under the loving but firm guidance of an old fan turned director and cultural diplomat and to the surprise of a whole world, the ex-Yugoslavian cult band Laibach becomes the first foreign rock group ever to perform in the fortress state of North Korea. Confronting strict ideology and cultural differences, the band struggles to get their songs through the needle's eye of censorship before they can be unleashed on an audience never before exposed to alternative rock'n'roll. Meanwhile, propaganda loudspeakers are being set up at the border between the two Koreas and a countdown to war is announced. The hills are alive...with the sound of music.

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18 October 2017 (USA)  »

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Islaisvinimo diena  »

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liberation or manipulation?
21 May 2017 | by (Herzlya, Israel) – See all my reviews

North Korea may be the most talked and the lesser known country of the planet. It's a closed and supervised nation which is practically disconnected from the rest of the world, and who let itself be filmed very seldom, by few people and in a well filtered manner. 'Laibach' is an anarchist band of metal rock from Slovenia, which had its peak moment of glory more than three decades ago when it brought its contribution to the fall of the Iron Curtain and of the Communism system and dismantling of the country that was known for much of the 20th century as Yugoslavia. The two came together in the summer of 2015 in an incredible event which can be of huge importance or can be just a footnote in history. The first concert of a Western (or at least European) rock band in North Korea. Until history decides about the importance of the event, we have this documentary film named Liberation Day which I have seen in the last screening of the DocAviv International Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv.

Watching this film is a multi-layered experience. We see a door semi-open, or a crack in a wall of mis-communication or lack of communication – I think these words or some similar are being used in the film – to a closed world. But we also know that not all could be filmed, and not everything was shown to the guests. While the members of the band and the team that came with them seem to buy into much of what is being served to them, there is a lot that is not being said that needs to be taken into consideration. After all, the members of the Laibach band not only came originally from a similar political system, maybe not that extreme, but based on the same principles, but also fought against it, and contributed – with their music and public attitude – to their fall. So the question can be asked – why did they accept the censorship and the rules of engagement defined by their hosts? Were they manipulated? The answer is not simple and the ambiguous quote that opens the film describes their approach – any form of art (in their opinion) has its component of propaganda and manipulation.

(Yes, indeed, but dosing differs.)

Some of the images in the film are memorable. The beginning brings together crowds on stadiums gathered for rock concerts (in the West) or for big propaganda shows (in North Korea) and suggests a parallel. The huge statues of the Korean rulers and the ceremonies of bringing flowers and bowing to the monuments are impressive, even if one may disagree with the message that is being conveyed. Some of the situations shown on screen – censorship, controlled performances with selected audiences – are familiar for somebody who lived under the Communist system. Other look simply surrealistic. The music of Laibach and the deep voice of the soloist remember us again on the background that what is important is the art and that its message needs not be explicit. A rock band concert in North Korea is an event. This film is an event. Viewers need to take this film as an open exercise and do their own reading.


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