2016 Pyongyang International Film Festival Opening Ceremony highlights


A traffic jam.  Honking horns.  Taxis galore dropping off patrons. Anxious locals waiting to get into the cinema to see a foreign film.  More anxious locals clamoring at the back of a packed 2,000-seat auditorium to get into the screening of said film – more specifically, a Bollywood movie (“Gabbar Is Back”) starring Akshay Kumar.

Such commotion would already be unusual at a typical movie screening or even most film festivals around the world, save, perhaps, the crème de la crème.  For these scenes to occur at the 15th edition of the Pyongyang International Film Festival (PIFF) is another matter.  Founded in 1987 and originally called the Pyongyang Film Festival of Non-Aligned and Developing Countries, the event now takes place every even year at theatres across the North Korean capital.

The three-hour Opening Ceremony on Sep. 16 took place at Pyongyang’s Central Youth Hall, its swift proceedings overseen by three emcees, a female speaking in Korean, and a male and female taking turns translating her words into English.  Trailers promoting the festival and its films, as well as the introduction of the five-man jury (one member each from Russia, Great Britain, India, New Zealand and North Korea, featuring photos of each subject apparently taken from every angle possible upon arrival), screened between speeches, the traditional PIFF flag raising and clap of a giant clapperboard, and traditional song and dance numbers.

The year 2016 saw a slight dip in the number of films, dropping about 40 percent from its peak total of about 100 titles.  Although the United States, Japan and South Korea are conspicuously absent, the lineup alone – not known to the public until the day the festival begins – does manage to live up to its name, with a considerable number of films from China/Hong Kong, Russia, Germany and India, among other countries.  This year’s list of films that screened from Sep. 16-23, as printed in the official program, follows:

Competition (Feature Film)

Russian Feature Film: “The Green Carriage”

Bangladeshi Feature Film: “Jalal’s Story”

Syrian Feature Film: “The Mother”

Iranian Feature Film: “The Other’s Father”

Indian Feature Film: “Ram Singh Charlie”

Korean Feature Film: “The Story of Our Home”

Chinese Feature Film: “Feeling The Love Flute”

Chinese Feature Film (Hong Kong): “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”

French Feature Film: “En Mai, fais ce qu’il te Plait”

Polish Feature Film: “WATERLINE”

Kirghizian Feature Film: “Heavenly Nomadic”

Competition (Documentary, Short & Animation)

Myanmar Short Feature Film: “Missing”

Russian Short Feature Film: “Grandfather and Grandson”

Russian Documentary Film: “Lake in the sea”

Swiss Documentary Film: “Dirty Gold War”

Russian Animation: “Legend Of the golden dragon”

Korean Animation: “Two boys found the answer”

Czech Animation: “Pat and Mat”

Special Screening

Swiss Documentary Film: “No business like show business”

Korean Documentary Film: “Prosperous Pyongyang”

Philippine Documentary Film: “Paraiso”

Informative Screening (Feature Film)

German Feature Film: “Hands Off Mississippi”

German Feature Film: “Kebab Connection”

German Feature Film: “Sanctuary”

Russian Feature Film: “Frontier Post ‘Serene’”

Russian Feature Film: “On the road to Berlin”

Russian Feature Film: “Lynx is on the Trail”

Russian Feature Film: “Lass Climber”

Luxembourgian Feature Film: “NUIT BLANCHE”

Mexican Feature Film: “Go on Living”

Mexican Feature Film: “Dead man’s hand”

Syrian Feature Film: “My Last Friend”

Syrian Feature Film: “The Lover”

Slovenian-Croatian Feature Film: “Seven Ravens”

Indian Feature Film: “Gabbar is back”

Indian Feature Film: “Bahubali”

Indian Feature Film: “Bajirao Mastani”

Indian Feature Film: “Tanu weds Manu return”

Indian Feature Film: “Dream Factory”

Estonian Feature Film: “Graveyard Keeper’s Daughter”

Chinese Feature Film: “The Primary Target”

Chinese Feature Film: “The Salute To The Flag”

Chinese Feature Film: “Singing From the roof of the World”

Chinese Feature Film: “Spirit of Resistance”

Chinese Feature Film (Hong Kong): “Unbeatable”

Chinese Feature Film (Hong Kong): “The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom”

Chinese Feature Film (Hong Kong): “The Last Tycoon”

French Feature Film: “Arretez-moi La”

French Feature Film: “Belier’s Family”

French Feature Film: “The Art Dealer”

Polish Feature Film: “BOGOWIE”

Informative Screening (Documentary, Short & Animation)

Russian Documentary Film: “Forgotten general”

Russian Documentary Film: “The Sky Will Belong to Us”

Myanmar Documentary Film: “My leg”

Myanmar Documentary Film: “The Barber”

British Documentary Film: “Hillsborough”

Italian Documentary Film: “Flowing City”

French Documentary Film: “Waiting for the (t)rain”

Philippine Documentary Film: “The Guerilla is a Poet”

Russian Animation: “If l were big”

Russian Animation: “Picky Mouse”

Photos: 2016 Pyongyang International Film Festival Opening Ceremony
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: 2016 Pyongyang International Film Festival Opening Ceremony
video by Meniscus Magazine

Video: 2016 Pyongyang International Film Festival program trailer
video by Meniscus Magazine