How do you make a film about the rhythms of everyday life in North Korea, when you know that anyone who talks to you wouldn’t last long? How do you shoot a documentary when you know that filming is not allowed? In 90 Seconds in North Korea, Ranko Paukovic filmed in slow motion, shooting secretly in 2-second intervals on a hi-speed camera that everyone else around him believed was an ordinary tourist stills camera. Each 2-second fragment created 20 seconds of slow motion footage. The result is a dreamlike yet breathtakingly normal montage of everyday street, road and beach life in a state that strictly controls what outsiders are allowed to see. A child plays with a toy car in the park, adults enjoy a game of cards in the park’s picnic area; trucks drive along an empty road, the rays of the setting sun lend warmth to lush countryside, and a shower of rain falls on the streets of Pyongyang…

As it was impossible to record any interviews or ambient sound, the soundtrack features a haunting and evocative sound design composed by the director, an accomplished sound editor. The pragmatic, necessary decision to shoot in slow motion lends the film a poetic quality: in Ranko’s own words, “the form is born out of need’.


Sheffield Doc/Fest 2018


Ranko Pauković studied film at the Academy of Dramatic Art in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia. After graduating, he worked as an assistant editor on large international co-productions. He moved to The Netherlands in 1991 and worked as a sound editor with prominent Dutch directors. In 1993 he set up his own sound studio, Editson, specialising in sound design, sound editing and film mixing for artistically ambitious projects.

“The slowed down nature and sound editing make it just ominous and uncomfortable enough to remind the viewer that he or she is getting a glimpse at some place forbidden.”

Antoine Matondo

photo by Mladen Pikulic

Still based in Amsterdam, Ranko is now in demand internationally. He has built up an impressive back catalogue of work including feature films, high-end television drama and documentaries. A few years ago, he made his debut as a director with the feature-length documentary Bijela Kuća (White House), about the unique white stone found on the island of Brač, Croatia and the people who earn a living from quarrying it. White House was shown at several international film festivals and broadcast by Croatian national television (HRT) and Al-Jazeera Balkans.

Ranko is also a visiting professor for the University of Zagreb, where he teaches sound design. At the moment he is finishing his next documentary, about the last European female mine workers supported by the Croatian Film Fund (HAVC).


Original / English title: 90 Seconds in North Korea
Country of production: The Netherlands
Year of completion: 2018
Film type: short documentary

Genre / Interest: experimental / human rights
Running time: 14’43”
Language: none
Subtitles: none
Shooting format: HD
Picture: colour

Aspect ratio: 16:9
Frame rate: 25fps
Sound: 5.1
Screening formats: DCP, Prores

PRESS CONTACT: Ranko Pauković
tel. +31(0)655165510