‘Seoul Train’ test screens at film festival today | VailDaily.com

‘Seoul Train’ test screens at film festival today

Cassie Pence
Preston Utley/Vail Daily Filmakers Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth from Minturn have created a documentary on North Korean refugees fleeing to China.

The last official preview of “Seoul Train,” a documentary by Minturn filmmakers Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth about the human right abuses in North Korea and China, test screens today at the Vilar Center as part of the Beaver Creek Film Festival.The film chronicles the plight of North Koreans who attempt to escape into China using an underground railroad of activist volunteers to smuggle them there.The idea to bring awareness about the North Korean refugee crisis emerged from a conversation Butterworth and Sleeth had with New York Times writer Jim Brooke.”We met Jim when he was talking at the Vail Symposium about the weapons of mass destruction crisis in North Korea, but afterwards we cornered him, and he said the real story is the human rights crisis there,” said Butterworth. Inside Productions is the name of their film company. Its tagline is “from awareness change.”

“It’s all about creating awareness. That’s where change is going to come from. We made the film to create a grass roots effort to change this crisis,” Butterworth said.They shot most of the film in China, South Korea and the North Korean border from the Chinese and South Korean side. They also obtained a lot of the footage from the activists that operate the underground railroad. Although the film isn’t finished – they have some last minute technical and editing tasks to complete – the documentary has been accepted to a headline prestigious film festival. Its premiere will be announced in a couple of weeks.Butterworth and Sleeth are very excited to have it preview at the Beaver Creek Film Festival. As with all the filmmakers involved, the more people who see their movies, the better.”Every time we show the film, we’ll reach someone. And that someone will know someone and want to get involved some how,” Butterworth said.Butterworth is a business man and Sleeth is registered nurse at the Vail Valley Medical Center. Neither of them ever thought of making a documentary before they met in June 2003.

“Neither of us had even used a camcorder,” Butterworth said. “We bought three books from Amazon.com on how to make a documentary, practiced with our cameras on the neighborhood kids for about a week before the trip, and voila.”According to film critic Walter Chaw, master of ceremonies at this weekend film festival, “Seoul Train” is a must-see. It airs today at the Vilar Center at 7 p.m.For more information, call (970) 476-0954.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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