Maverick artist Nam June Paik will be the subject of a new feature-length documentary that will highlight unseen footage and archival materials. The currently untitled production will be completed in 2022. Oscar nominee and “Minari” star Steven Yeun and hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy have joined the project as executive producers.
Paik is often referred to as the “Father of Video Art” and was a prophet of the internet, as well as a visionary and futurist. Adopting technology to transform the way we see the world, he was one of the first to use television as an artist’s canvas and invented the video synthesizer. In the 1970s, he coined the term “Electronic Superhighway” and predicted the future of communication in the digital age. He launched a series of the world’s first global satellite art events, bridging the gap between East and West, pop and avant-garde and all genres of art by featuring artists such as Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Joseph Beuys, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Issey Miyake. A retrospective of Paik, which originated at the Tate Modern Museum London, was recently shown at SFMoMA 2021.
The film will trace Paik’s life from childhood as he traveled across the world. He fled to Japan from his native Korea at the outbreak of the Korean War, before moving to Germany and subsequently to New York City where he settled in 1964.
The film will include interviews with and footage of Bowie, Beuys, Sakamoto, Charlotte Moorman, Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, George Maciunas, Bad Brains and John Hanhardt.
The film is directed and produced by Amanda Kim, previously a creative director at Vice Media. This is her first feature-length documentary. Other producers include Jennifer Blei Stockman (“The Price of Everything”), David Koh (“Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell”), Amy Hobby (“What Happened, Miss Simone?”) and Jesse Wann (“Wormwood”).
“Nam June Paik imagined the ways in which communication technologies and the media could be a tool to foster electronic empathy between different cultures,” Kim said. “His vision feels extremely relevant today and I am thrilled to be able to share his inspiring story.”
Other executive producers are Kenzo Digital, Steven Jang and Florence Sloan. Mariko Munro, Heejung Oh and Alain de la Mata will act as co-producers. The film is a Nam June Production made in association with Kindred Ventures, Seesaw Pictures, Octopus Originals and Gyopo. This is the first authorized documentary made in association with Paik’s estate.
Producers Jennifer Stockman and David Koh stated: “Nam June Paik is one of our creative heroes and an inspiration to every artist working today. Surprisingly, he is still unrecognized by the larger public and we hope our film will change that. It is a real honor to work with the estate, the family of the artist and with Amanda Kim.”
The deals were negotiated by David Koh on behalf of filmmakers and producers, along with Anne Atkinson, Pryor Cashman LLP on behalf of Ken Hakuta and the estate of Paik. The film has the support from the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Kramlich Foundation, The Ford Foundation/Just Films, HBO/IFP New Story Fund and Korea Communications Agency.