A biography of Korean director and studio head Shin Sang-ok, who worked both sides of the peninsula’s north-south divide, “The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film” is an enthralling if hagiographic slice of cinema history that will satiate Asian-film aficionados and novices alike. Covering Shin’s career from the late 1940s to his 1986 liberation from Kim Jong-il’s employment, the pic is packed with reminiscences from admiring colleagues and collaborators, and a myriad of clips from Shin’s 60-year oeuvre. A must for Asian-themed fests, docu also will appeal to other film-buff gatherings.
Narrated by former Shin protege Lee Jang-ho in bombastic style, the docu kicks off with the prolific director’s first film, “Evil Night” (1952), whose shoot was interrupted by the Korean War; Shin thereafter exhibited unflagging determination to create a Korean studio system similar to Japan’s. Although funded by a body established to honor Shin’s legacy after his 2006 death, the pic doesn’t completely dodge the controversy of its subject’s alleged collaboration with South Korea’s 1970s dictatorship. A proposed follow-up doc will address Shin’s post-North Korean experiences.