With so many films released in Britain each week it is all too easy for a work of exceptional quality to disappear without ever attracting the attention it deserves.
Such a film is Camp 14: Total Control Zone which is being shown by the Eastbourne Film Society at the Curzon Cinema on Wednesday, November 19, with seats available for the public.
Camp 14, made by the German filmmaker Marc Wiese, is one of the few documentaries made with such skill and sensitivity that it deserves to be regarded as a work of art.
It brings the story of one person’s life as told by the man himself. That man is Shin Donghyuk who was born in captivity in North Korea in 1983.
His parents had been put in a labour camp for those regarded as political offenders and, because he knew no other way of life, he grew up accepting as natural a world regulated by the strictest of rules.
These rules were such that inmates were expected to report anything untoward in the behaviour of others and it was understood that infringement of the rules would automatically lead to execution.
Eventually Shin would escape, find his way to South Korea and become a worker for human rights organisations, so the film has its up-side.
However, the revelation of conditions in the camps is central to this work and Shin’s experiences there make for a film that is unforgettable.
Naturally, this is not a film that is in any sense an entertainment, but the story it tells is remarkable and it is very necessary that such works about man’s inhumanity to man should be seen.
In some ways Shin is an inspiration, but his story is also the direst warning and one that we need. It is difficult to believe that anybody could see Camp 14 and not be haunted by it and by the truths that it reveals.