Under the Sun
After two years of negotiation, the North Korean government invited Russian director Vitaly Mansky to make a documentary about one girl and her family in the year she prepares to join a patriotic youth group; the catch was that they would write the story, provide the actors, and approve all of the footage. The government handlers failed to realize that Mansky also filmed their careful orchestration of the entire process, from the girl’s struggles to stay in character to the government minders’ exhortations of factory workers to sound more joyful when speaking on camera. Pulled from the Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight Festival over fears of Korean retaliation, Under the Sun reveals both the idealized vision of life in North Korea and its sinister realities.
(Vitaly Mansky, Russia, 2015, 100 min., DCP)
Robert Bird is Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.