Russia / Czech Republic / Latvia / North Korea / Germany 2015, 106 min, Korean, Hebrew & English subtitles
There was an endless stream of bizarre directorial instructions from government “minders”, who followed the film crew 24/7. They were there to make sure “that there were no mistakes in how the best country in the world is presented”. This could be a comedy, but it isn’t. Russian director Vitaly Mansky went to North Korea to shoot a documentary about a girl in a typical Pyongyang family. His minders believe that they convinced him to shoot a propaganda film. What Mansky reveals in his roundabout way are the meticulous preparations before each scene, the constant rewrites of each line uttered by his protagonists, and the precise instructions, which dictate even the intensity of the father’s ostensibly spontaneous laughter. These moments present the nightmarish story of a totalitarian regime, where people can barely smile unless ordered to do so.
Previous Festivals: DokFest Leipzig, Jihlava IDF, Black nights FF Tallinn, IDFA, Trieste IFF, SXSW FF Austin, Hong Kong IFF, Istanbul IFF, Hot Docs