New East Digital Archive

Russian cinemas cancel North Korean documentary screenings

Russian cinemas cancel North Korean documentary screenings
Still from Under the Sun, dir. Vitaly Mansky (2016)

25 October 2016

When Russian film director Vitaly Mansky was granted permission to make a documentary on the life of an eight-year-old girl joining North Korea’s state-run youth group the Children’s Union, he knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. His team were escorted by officials throughout both of their visits to North Korea, and they had to show all their footage to the authorities everyday once filming finished. Unbeknownst to the censors however, was that Mansky left the cameras running before and after scenes, capturing on film the group of men who staged every shot and directed the girl’s “joyous” response to joining the youth group. Mansky and his team edited out this footage before showing it to censors, saving their edits in secret.

Since then, the North Korean government, an ally of Russia, has expressed protest to the screening of the film entitled Under the Sun, due to be released in Russian cinemas this Thursday. Eight cinemas in Russia have so far cancelled screenings of the documentary after Russia’s Ministry of Culture applied pressure to cancel the film. Mansky told Russian news website Meduza that seven of the eight cinemas to have refused to screen the film are from the government film company MosKino. There are 20 remaining cinema theatres who plan to go ahead with screening the film. The film is due for release in United States and Germany next year.

Source: Meduza and The Times