Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Under the Sun 2015

V luchakh solnca

Directed by Vitaly Mansky Framing Reality

Shot with the permission and supervision of Pyongyang authorities, Under the Sun turns a North Korean propaganda exercise into a deep-cover documentary about life inside one of the world’s most repressive nations.

Czech Republic / Germany / Latvia / North Korea / Russia In Korean with English subtitles
106 minutes DCP



Natalia Manskaya
Simone Baumann
Filip Remunda


Alexandra Ivanova
Mikhail Gorubchuk


Andrej Paperny


Evgeniya Lachina
Anrijs Krenbergs


Karlis Auzans


Amsterdam Documentary 2015; SXSW
Hong Kong
San Francisco
Hot Docs 2016


This documentary has all the usual ingredients for a North Korea exposé: huge empty squares, propaganda posters and massed performers. But this one achieves much more than all the others, ironically by following the rules. 

Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky travels to Pyongyang to make a film about a schoolgirl, Zin-mi, about to join the Korean Children’s Union and become a fully vested citizen. He has submitted a script to the authorities. Zin-mi’s activities at home and school are all approved, but as the shoot begins the propaganda officials stay close. So, leaving his camera running between takes, Mansky documents their constant fussing and interfering. This footage and the repeated takes they demand become the nub of the movie, revealing in excruciating detail how much control is being exerted over everything and everyone we see.

“Watching the finished film is a uniquely disturbing experience. It’s like someone’s opened a window into an Orwellian universe where lies are truth, freedom is slavery and dictatorship is the will of the people. At least when it ends we can return to our world; Zin-mi and her family are trapped there forever.” — Norman Wilner, Now