A Journey with Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim

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By Jonathan Marlow

"We wanted to take people on a journey with the family." Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story is a "little-known-in-these-parts story of thirteen (confirmed) Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea (although the actual kidnapped total may be much higher)," wrote Jonathan Marlow when he saw it at Slamdance. "The filmmakers have exceptional access to the parents of one of the victims as they attempt to pressure the Japanese government to get a definite answer from the Kim Jong Il administration about their daughter's fate. To put it succinctly, this is one of the most emotionally draining docs that I've seen in ages."

As we enter the conversation he's having with husband-and-wife filmmakers Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim, they're just now discussing the impact Variety can have on the fate of an independent film...

Chris Sheridan: A friend of ours made this film called the Guatemalan Handshake...

Todd [Rohal], yes. [See Jonathan Marlow's interview at GreenCine Daily.]

Sheridan: They said, "Theatrically toast." He was hurt by that and I would've been, too, if they'd had said that to us.

Patty Kim: I just looked at the Variety website; it wasn't in the weekly issue. They didn't even bother to print it in the weekly thing. So I thought, "I'll have to go online and read it... Oh, no!"

Sheridan: He pulled it up and said, "Hey guys, the review's up!" They were all around the house. Then he said, "Oh, it's not here yet," because he didn't want his crew to see it...

Kim: For morale.

Honestly, you can't trust this rag. Their concern is more in theatrical viability than any kind of artistic quality...

Kim: Right.

With Todd's film, it would be difficult for somebody to look at it and say, "I see exactly how this is going to make us ten million dollars." It's a quirky film that would require someone to be careful about how they distribute it. Regardless, what's happening with your film? Why are you both so painfully oppressive about your damn tapes? Why won't you let anyone see your movie?

Kim: We let you see it twice!

I saw it at Slamdance and again at SFIAAFF. The publicist said, "They don't want to do interviews if you haven't seen it yet." To which I replied, "I've seen it! I've seen the damn movie!" I was standing in the back of the theater in Park City the whole time...

Sheridan: We would have made an exception for you, probably. Our strategy is to try, whenever we can, to get the people who can make the decisions about whether this is going to get in theaters to be there in an audience setting. It's simply because we've seen the reaction from audiences and I think that it's important that distributors, in particular, see that, too. I think they also need to see the sort of audiences that are coming to this film, which are people who usually wouldn't go see documentaries. We wish they were in Cleveland last week. There was an unbelievable audience at the festival. It was a packed house and a lot of emotion.

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