Last month, I saw Under the Sun (2015) a documentary film about North Korea, five times within a period of a few days! Each time I went back I saw something I had missed.
The film, in Korean, was directed by the Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky.
It is beautifully done and tugs and pulls at the viewer emotionally on many levels. The central person in the film, who is unforgettable, is an adorable eight-year-old North Korean girl named Zin-mi.
A New York Times critic, Glenn Kenny, made the following very perceptive, right on the money comment about the film:
It touches a nerve substantially deeper than the ‘I’m sure glad I don’t live there’ one.
The film features beautiful, elegiac music — used sparingly with great effect — composed by a Latvian composer, Karlis Auzans.
The North Korean government went to great lengths to try to prevent the film from being released.
The film is a “quasi documentary.” The compelling thing about it is that you come away caring about the people and touched by the film’s PATHOS — despite the fact that one is aware that the people live regimented lives in a totalitarian state where they have been effectively brainwashed and reduced almost to automatons (or so it often seems).
— Roger W. Smith
The trailer is at
Some articles about “Under the Sun”:
‘Under the Sun,’ Two Views of North Korea (film review)
The New York Times, July 5, 2016
‘Under the Sun,’ a Documentary Masked and Unmasked
The New York Times, July 1, 2016
MoMA Apologizes for Dropping a Film Critical of North Korea
The New York Times, June 10, 2016
‘Under the Sun’ documentary catches North Korea with its guard down
Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2016
‘Under the Sun’ Review: A Terrifying Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Dictatorship
July 6, 2016
Film Review: ‘Under the Sun’
Russian film exposes the workings of North Korea’s propaganda machine
December 2, 2015