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Under the Sun


Friday, May 6, 2016 - 6:45pm

Under the Sun

Vitaly Mansky | 
Russia |
 2015 | 
90 minutes

Vitaly Mansky’s Under the Sun offers an insightful look into the everyday life of people in North Korea. The documentary portrays a traditional family in their routine of work, school, and daily meals, punctuated by events such as being initiated into the Children’s Union, and partaking in national celebrations such as the Day of the Shining Star (Kim-Jong Il’s birthday). From the beginning there is something deeply awry; more than just the perceivable stiffness of the reality being presented on screen. The film peels away the surface of things to expose the inner workings of North Korea’s indoctrination machine. All the cogs and gears clanking along to manufacture propaganda and create the conditions under which all citizens are required to operate. Still, there is a slyness and sense of mischief to Mansky’s approach, as he lets his camera run just long enough to capture moments of humour and honesty — whether it’s a public service announcement on the benefits of kimchi, or school children being bored to tears by the lengthy reminiscing of a retired war veteran.

Mansky plays easily with notions of representation and the medium of documentary itself. The film is gorgeously crafted, framed and shot with masterful vision. But more importantly, it is able to slip underneath the surface of images presented and winnow out the hidden truth of a country and its people. The film manages to portray the virtues North Korea wants to embody while simultaneously underscoring the human cost that must be paid to uphold such rapacious ideology. -AP


Vitaly Mansky

Born 1963 in Lvov, Ukraine, Vitaly Mansky is one of the most important contemporary Russian documentary filmmakers. A sought-after producer and cinematographer, he has shot more than 30 films, and currently serves as the president of ArtDocFest, Moscow's Documentary Film Festival. His most recent films are The Book and Pipeline