North Korea: A Day in the Life (2004)

All at once uplifting and soul-destroying. Every human being should see this film to better understand the complexities of our species.

This is the only film at this year’s festival that doesn’t really chronicle a long distance journey. However, it has been included in the schedule because of its mind-boggling insight into a far away place about which we know almost zero. It is well recognised that North Korea is possibly the most closed, secretive and controlled society on earth. In 2004 Dutch film-maker Pieter Fleury was granted unprecedented access to workaday North Korea. He used the simple ‘day in a life’ format to follow three generations of one family as they go about their routine business. What his camera saw was heavily vetted by the authorities making the nursery full of infants chanting an anti-American rhyme all the more chilling. A touch of genius is Fleury’s conscious omission of any captions or commentary. We have the subtitles to tell us what our Pyongyang hosts are up to but the observation and judgements will all be down to you, the viewer. Is this the socialist Utopia so many have dreamed of (and get ready, it comes very close) or the Orwellian nightmare in rude health? At festival’s end there will be only two kinds of people; those that did and did not see North Korea — A day in the life…

Colour video ?? minutes