North Korea backtracked last month over its threat of “merciless punishment” against the Berlinale after it mistakenly thought the German release of The Interview was official festival fare.
But at a press conference Monday that featured Russian punk rockers Pussy Riot as special guests, a planned airdrop of DVDs of the film over the country — previously revealed by The Hollywood Reporter — was confirmed.
“We will start sending hydrogen balloons with DVDs of The Interview to North Korea so that the people there can watch the movie. They can copy the movie and have their own impression if it’s a good or bad movie,” explained Jaka Bizilj, founder and chairman of the Cinema for Peace Foundation, which is involved in the project. “Because for us, it’s not a question of whether it’s good or bad; no matter if you like something or not, you have to fight for freedom to exercise this art.”
Hydrogen balloons will be set symbolically at the Cinema for Peace Foundation’s gala in Berlin on Monday evening, which will also feature a performance by Pussy Riot and The Interview‘s James Franco as a guest. But exact details of the North Korean drop are remaining under wraps.
Speaking to THR, Bizilj said that the timing and location of the drop wouldn’t be revealed, as it could endanger those in the country. “The army will stop anyone even picking up a copy of the DVD,” he noted.
Alongside Cinema for Peace, the drop is being supported by New York-based Human Rights Foundation, plus activists in South Korea and even an individual in North Korea, according to a spokesperson.
Pussy Riot was the subject of the 2013 HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, and members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina will reveal a clip of their next documentary, alongside their first song in English, at Monday night’s gala. The two band members also announced plans to improve their “movie muscles” and work on bigger film projects.
“Before, we didn’t do things with scripts, but now we’re trying to understand how it works,” said Tolokonnikova. “We hope that people inside and outside of Russia help us, and that people in Russia will see the result.”
Also present at the press conference was Bianca Jagger, who spoke out against the leaders of the world who took part in the march in Paris following January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks yet had “shocking records in terms of freedom of expression” in their own countries. She highlighted the plight of Egyptian journalists still imprisoned and the Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza, among many others.
Regarding the divisive first Charlie Hebdo cover after the attacks that featured a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, she said that as a Catholic, she didn’t like publications making fun of her religion and that she could “understand the sensitivity” people may have. But she repeated an Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote, often falsely attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Added Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina of the Charlie Hebdo cover: “We think that only weak people are afraid of satire. We spent two years in a prison because our government doesn’t understand satire and is unable to laugh at themselves. And that’s why they’re weak.”