SIFF 2016: Under the Sun (Vitaly Mansky, 2015)

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“My father says Korea is the most beautiful country in the eastern part of the globe. Korea is the land of the Rising Sun.”

Granted rare access to North Korea, documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky follows the story of a young girl who joins the Children’s Union and prepares for the Day of the Sun, birthday of Kim Il-Sung, conqueror of the “American scoundrels.” Working around Korean handlers by filming before “Action!” is called or by lingering on drooping eyelids and fidgeting fingers, the camera captures extraordinary, unscripted moments. Such spontaneity, juxtaposed with the official Korean script that demands its subjects act “with joy” and “patriotism,” offers a complex, poignant portrait of life in a rigid regime.

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Under the Sun screened at the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival.

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