New York Times
"Both surreal and sinister, it feels like we are watching a real-life version of The Truman Show"
"Extraordinary and revealing"
"The experienced filmmaker has turned the imposed limitations into a huge advantage and simply let the fourth wall fall, exposing the sheer brutality of the North Korean state machine and the misery of living in this society. Without revealing a single detail of the functioning of the state apparatus, Mansky has conveyed its very essence"
"Although unintentionally funny throughout, its evocation of life in a totalitarian society is ultimately chilling"
Shot with the permission and supervision of North Korean authorities, a collaboration they would come to regret, turns a propaganda effort into a deep-cover documentary about life inside one of the world's most repressive nations.
Russian director Vitaly Mansky was guided to preapproved locations in Pyongyang and provided with model subjects: young Lee Zin-mi, a student at the city's best school, and her parents, workers at two exemplary factories (or so officials claimed). The film follows Zin-mi as she studies the triumphs of Great Leader Kim Il-sung, joins the Children's Union and participates in the national celebration of Kim Jong-il's birthday. Each sequence is rigorously scripted for maximum ideological correctness, but Mansky shows the cracks in the façade: schoolchildren struggle to stay awake during lectures, the carefully composed expressions of the adults flicker with exhaustion and anxiety; even the resolutely compliant Zin-mi eventually succumbs under the pressure. By keeping the camera rolling while ever-present minders exhort the citizen-performers to play themselves "more joyfully," Mansky reveals the grinding gears of the totalitarian message machine. "I wanted to make a film about the real Korea," he said, but what he found instead was "the myth of a real life."
Directed by Vitaly Mansky, 2015, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia, North Korea, 106 mins. In Korean with English subtitles.
- Fri., July 8 at 7 & 9 pm
- Sat., July 9 at 5, 7 & 9 pm
- Sun., July 10 at 5 & 7 pm
- Mon.Thurs., July 1114 at 7 & 9 pm
$10 general admission
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