Annecy 2020: TV Pitch ‘38th Parallel’ Documents Unseen Family Life in North Korea

Ann-Marie Corvin

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Mifa’s TV series & specials pitches went live on Thursday with an epic eight-parter from the U.K.’s Mosaic Films, focusing on the life of a young family growing up in North Korea.

Directed by award-winning director Andy Glynne, “38th Parallel: Hidden Voices from North Korea” takes the collected stories of defectors from the secretive regime and distills them into an ordinary family’s journey.

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With a narrative spanning over 70 years – from the birth of North Korea to the present day – we follow the Park family – a soldier, a nurse and their two children  – from their relative positions of privilege in Pyongyang to their banishment to a sparse northern town.

There, the family deal with famine, poverty, torture and the constant threat of death, while even escape to South Korea provides challenges as they tread the migrant’s path.

According to Glynne, who won a BAFTA for “Seeking Refuge” – a BBC animation series based on the lives of young refugees living in the U.K. – animation is the perfect medium to vizualise the external and internal world of life in the world’s most secretive state.”

“It allows us to see the unseen, and witness the unrecorded,” added the series’ producer, Mosaic’s Kerrin Kokot.

The project plans to blend “3D realism and 2D abstraction” to bring the six-part half hour series to life, citing Jérémy Clapin’s 2019 feature “I Lost My Body” as a style reference.

“3D pipelines allow for a lot of playful, exploratory camera angles and movement, depth of field, while 2D illustration is fantastic for more abstract, emotive expression,” Kolkot said.

The project has received development funding from the E.U.’s Creative Europe program, as well as private equity.

The series already has a Belgian co-producer partner on board – Beluga Tree’s Diana Elbaum, formerly a producer and founder of Entre Chien & Loup, and is seeking more.

Now in the writing phase, the project is also looking for broadcasters/platforms and investors.

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