I cant claim to be an aficionado of the documentary or, as they have somehow come to be called 'docs'. I think I'd rather read an article about the subject than go through the whole atrchive footage, talking heads, cuurent day, talking heads format. Somehow or other though I found myself in the smaller of the Greater Union George Street cinemasfor a most interesting, indeed even entertaining (not always the same), doco called Crossing the Line about an American soldier who defected to North Korea in 1962 and became, among other things a movie star whose villainous characters were always played by Arthur Cockstud, in the many films he made.
The protagonist is James Joseph Dresnok, a young and almost uneducated man, abused as a child by foster parents (his childhood is like the old joke "my parents moved house six times when I was a kid and I found them five times" ) who jouins the army and finds himself guarding the DMZ in South Korea. He's jacked off with it all and heads across the border. There he comes under the tender ministrations of the North Korean authorities who use him as a battering ram for the rest of his life. He's the one who can tell visitors of the virtues of Kim Il-sung and so on.
He marries twice and has kids but doesn't marry Korean women. His kids speak a fractured form of English but are privileged students at the Foreign languages school from whence the diplomatic corp is selected. There are three others like him. They all appear as Americans in anti-American movies. Two die quite young and then the only remaining one wants out. He tells a story thast Dresnok abused him and is reunited with his Japanese wife. He eventually gets oiut, is sntneced to 30 days in the brig and makes the cover of Time. This above all must have prompted the North Koreans to let Dresnok tell his story. It's fascination never ceases.
This is a BBC doco, made with all the sort of polish that can be applied but it does seem to have had fantastic and unusual access. What remains is for someone to create a season of Arthur Cockstud movies. That would be even more fascinating.
The film has its second screening on Saturday 23 June.