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Under the Sun
A film by Vitaly Mansky
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After years of negotiation the Russian director Vitaly Mansky was invited by the North Korean government to make a film about one girl and her family in the year she prepares to join the Children's Union, on the 'Day of the Shining Star' (Kim Jong-Il's birthday).

"My father says that Korea is the most beautiful country..." says eight-year-old Zin-mi. And so it might seem as Mansky films her in joyous, patriotic school pageants and in dance class, or with her parents, eating delicious food in their picturesque apartment.

But the government handlers supervising the production did not realize that Mansky kept filming even after they had shouted "Cut." UNDER THE SUN is the jaw-dropping result, a "surreal and sinister... real-life version of THE TRUMAN SHOW." —The Hollywood Reporter

film still"Critics' Pick! Startling and chilling."The New York Times

"Fascinating; a revealing act of subversion."Variety

"Captures revealing details about everyday life in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital."WNYC, The Leopard Lopate Show

"A filmmaking coup."The Los Angeles Times


"UNDER THE SUN reveals the facades of North Korea—and what's behind them."The A.V. Club

"The script of this extraordinary and revealing film, about an ordinary family in Pyongyang, was assigned to the filmmakers by the North Korean authorities. The crew was accompanied at all times by minders 'to prevent us from getting lost'; the locations were pre-selected; the performances orchestrated to depict suitably fervent levels of patriotism. All the footage was scrutinized by DPRK officials to check for mistakes in showing a typical family in 'the best country in the world'. It's no wonder that the smiles start look a little forced. What's more unexpected is just how much Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky is able to reveal despite, and often because of, the stringent restrictions imposed upon him."Screen Daily

"Authorities are said to have tried to prevent screenings of UNDER THE SUN, a film that follows a North Korean girl as she prepares to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birthday of former supreme leader Kim Jong-il. Directed by veteran filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, the documentary crew gained unprecedented access to the country by making the North Korean regime an official production partner and allowing officials complete control over the script."The Guardian

Best Director, 2015 Black Nights International Film Festival Tallinn
Best Documentary, 2015 Jihlava Documentary Film Festival
2015 DOKLeipzig Documentary Film Festival
2015 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Jury Bravery Award, 2016 Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
2016 Docpoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival
2016 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)
2016 DOXA Documentary Film Festival
2016 San Francisco Film Festival
2016 Hot Docs Film Festival
2016 Wisconsin Film Festival
2016 Seattle International Film Festival

110 minutes / color
In Korean with English subtitles
Release: 2016
Copyright: 2015
DVD Sale: $29.98

This DVD is sold above for home video use only. If you require a license for institutional use or Public Performance rights, click here.

Subject areas:
Anthropology, Asia, Asian Studies, Cinema Studies, Documentaries, Human RIghts, Political Science, Sociology

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Last Updated October 7, 2016
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