Obscure North Korean/Japanese co-production Somi - the Taekwon-do Woman in line for rare London outing
Our friends at Zipangu Fest need your help - they would like to screen little a known North-Korean/Japanese co-production Somi - The Taekwon-do Woman (1997) but they need your comitment to make it happen. Via the funding website crowfunder.co.uk they need to sell all 120 of the £10 tickets in order to make it happen. So if you'd like to see this obscure film up on the big screen 14th September in London (and this may be your only opportunity to do so) or even if you can't go but would like to support please consider having a look at Zipangu Fest's crowdfunder page here.
Here's some more information on the film taken from Zipangu Fest's pitch:
On the surface, Somi - The Taekwon-do Woman (1997) may not look like a Japanese film, and one doesn’t think often think of Japan in relation to international co-productions, especially during the 1990s. However, the film was financed 100% on the Japanese side and was intended for an international audience, to be released under the alternative English title of Woman Warrior of Koryo. The story follows a similar narrative arc to that celebrated Japanese tale of tyranny and revenge, Lady Snowblood, but benefits from the sets, locations and solid craftsmanship provided by its North Korean cast and crew, resulting in a far higher production values than one would expect of a historical martial arts action movie made in Japan during the same period.
Producer Masao Kobayashi began his long career in film working as an assistant director for Daiei in the 1960s, until the company’s bankruptcy in 1971. After years of producing and managing TV dramas and various film projects, he was requested by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s Film Export & Import Corporation to make another film, resulting in the production of Somi - The Taekwon-do Woman, financed with Japanese money but using an all-North Korean cast and crew. He would move on to Pyongyang in 2000 with the celebrated Japanese director Yoji Yamada (the It’s Tough Being a Man/Tora-san series, Twilight Samurai, About Her Brother, etc) with a view to another such co-production, but trade restrictions imposed in 2004 by the then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, following Kim Jong-il’s disclosure of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korea, spelled an end to such projects.
According to Kobayashi, the actress playing Somi, Ri Mi Yang, was an amateur who was chosen by the North Koreans "because they thought that the Japanese might like her face". As fortune would have it, however, the film was only screened once in Japan, at the Yubari Film Festival in 2001. It didn’t fare much better in North Korea either, screening only once on its premiere on New Year's eve 1997/98. Meanwhile global political developments saw potential markets for the film closing, and though an English-language 35mm print was prepared, it was never used outside of its international festival debut at Yubari and remained in storage, until now…
So be the first to see this rare film on our opening night, Friday September 14th 2012, on real 35mm. Our venue this year is the amazing Cinema Museum in Kennington, London - you'll be enjoying a fun bit of film history whilst sitting amongst bits of film history ;)