“Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV” is set to world premiere on Jan. 22 at Sundance as part of the U.S. Documentary Competition.
Paik, one of the most famous Asian artists of the 20th century, revolutionized the use of technology as an artistic canvas and invented the video synthesizer. He is credited with coining the term “electronic super highway,” which was the title of one of his most famous works that involved more than 300 TV sets.
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 David Bowie, Joseph Beuys, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Charlotte Moorman, Yoko Ono, Jonas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, George Maciunas, Bad Brains and John Hanhardt.
The film marks the debut feature for Kim, a Korean American director and producer. A former creative director at Vice Media, she led U.S. video direction for i-D, Creators and Garage Magazine. Kim also worked on Viceland, Vice’s TV channel, as a creative producer in an experimental incubator where she directed a nimble production crew to test out pilots and innovative content formats.
The deal for the documentary was negotiated between Oli Harbottle, Dogwoof’s chief content officer, and David Koh on behalf of the filmmakers.
Harbottle said: “Nam June Paik’s legacy as one of the most visionary artists of the 20th century continues to grow with several major exhibitions worldwide in recent years. From a huge wealth of material, Amanda has weaved together a fascinating look at a true pioneer whose prophetic vision is now a living reality for the modern world.”
Producers Jennifer Stockman and David Koh added: “We are so excited to launch this film internationally and partner with Dogwoof. Nam June Paik was a pioneer who pushed the boundaries of art into the modern world. He is a hero of ours and his important story will both stun and resonate with audiences around the world.”
“Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV” was directed and produced by Amanda Kim; edited by Taryn Gould; produced by Stockman, Koh, Amy Hobby, Mariko Munro, and Jesse Wann. Executive producers include Kenzo Digital, Fab 5 Freddy, Steve Jang, Florence Sloan and “Minari” star Steven Yeun, with Heejung Oh and Alain de la Mata as co-producers.
The film’s original score is by composer Will Epstein, while Ryuichi Sakamoto composed a theme for the film.