Film Review: Aim High in Creation!

By Joy Chiang Ling

Aim High in Creation! is an unusual documentary that seeks to expose the harmful effects of fracking, a method for extracting coal seam gas that is plaguing parks and homes in Australia. The director and writer, Anna Broinowski, does so by visiting Pyongyang, where she learns to create a propaganda film that follows the cinematographic principles outlined in Kim Jong-il’s book, On the Art of the Cinema. With the help of her actor friends and various North Korean filmmakers, Anna creates a short film that she hopes will help win her battles against the gas companies that threaten her home.

Unlike most documentaries about North Korea, Aim High in Creation! does not demonize the isolationist nation – instead, it presents its citizens in a different, positive light. They crack jokes, discuss film and exchange cultural knowledge. It is refreshing to see North Koreans presented as ordinary people rather than oppressed victims struggling to live.

Australia, on the other hand, is portrayed as a land fraught with environmental issues caused by greedy gas companies. On one occasion, Anna interviews a farmer whose agricultural way of life is being destroyed. The interview is emotional and revealing. It contrasts with the otherwise amusing scenes before it and reminds its audience about the true purpose of the documentary: to enlighten viewers about the dangers of fracking, and to help people like the farmer return to a normal state of life.

What results from Anna’s educational journey is a humorous Australian propaganda film that diabolizes fracking companies. Though the film itself is not as effective as the documentary that leads up to it, it is still enjoyable and achieves its goal. Aim High in Creation! is engaging, funny and thoughtful, and will leave its audience with a more open mind.

It will be featured in the New York Asian Film Festival, which begins June 27, 2014 and ends July 14, 2014. It will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, with its U.S. Premiere and Q&A with director Anna Broinowski.

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