One of the more bizarre news stories of the last few years was the public assassination of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother by two mysterious young women in a crowded Malaysian airport. Already newsworthy enough, only stranger when the accused claimed they were duped into thinking their actions were part of a prank reality-TV show rather than being party to a political murder.
A Sundance 2020 selection, Ryan White’s documentary Assassins delves further into how this story unraveled and intertwined with human trafficking, geo-political intrigue, and North Korea’s clandestine dynamics. As its trailer suggests, White’s film centers the possible culpability of these young women and dissects their role in this web of involved factions and agendas. White has directed projects about subjects ranging from Dr. Ruth Westheimer to Prop 8, and has never shied away from subjects that are both deeply humane and relevant to this time. And Assassins absolutely follows in that trajectory.
Speaking to The Wrap, he and producer Jessica Hargreave were forthcoming about both the difficulty in finding distribution for such a hot button topic — especially in tandem with the 2014 Sony Hack which caused its own issues with making films about North Korea — and their empathetic purpose in making this film.
“Basically, they were both susceptible to this appeal to stardom and this better life and fame and fortune, so when someone approached them asking if they want to be on a prank show, they both were looking for opportunity, looking for a better life,” Hargrave said in laying out their motivations for making the film.
See the trailer and poster below.
Assassins is coming to virtual cinemas and theaters on December 11.