Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  110 minutes
Date:  2016
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Korean / English subtitles
Color/BW:  Color
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Under the Sun

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A fascinating portrait of one North Korean girl and her parents in the year as she prepares to join the Korean Children's Union on Kim Jong-Il's birthday.

Under the Sun

After years of negotiation the Russian director Vitaly Mansky was invited by the North Korean government to make a film about one girl and her family, in the year she prepares to join the Children's Union, on the 'Day of the Shining Star' (Kim Jong-Il's birthday).

'My father says that Korea is the most beautiful country...' says eight-year-old Zin-mi. And so it might seem as Mansky films her participating in joyous patriotic school pageants, in dance class, or with her parents, eating delicious food, in their lovely apartment.

But the government handlers supervising the production did not realize that Mansky kept filming even after they had shouted 'Cut.' UNDER THE SUN is the jaw-dropping result, a 'surreal and sinister... real-life version of THE TRUMAN SHOW' (The Hollywood Reporter).

'Critics' Pick! Startling and chilling.' - The New York Times

'Fascinating; a revealing act of subversion.' - Variety

'Captures revealing details about everyday life in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.' - WNYC, The Leopard Lopate Show

'A filmmaking coup.' - The Los Angeles Times

'Chilling.' - RogerEbert.com

'UNDER THE SUN reveals the facades of North Korea-and what's behind them.' - The A.V. Club

'The script of this extraordinary and revealing film, about an ordinary family in Pyongyang, was assigned to the filmmakers by the North Korean authorities. The crew was accompanied at all times by minders 'to prevent us from getting lost'; the locations were pre-selected; the performances orchestrated to depict suitably fervent levels of patriotism. All the footage was scrutinized by DPRK officials to check for mistakes in showing a typical family in 'the best country in the world'. It's no wonder that the smiles start look a little forced. What's more unexpected is just how much Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky is able to reveal despite, and often because of, the stringent restrictions imposed upon him.' - Screen Daily

'Authorities are said to have tried to prevent screenings of UNDER THE SUN, a film that follows a North Korean girl as she prepares to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birthday of former supreme leader Kim Jong-il. Directed by veteran filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, the documentary crew gained unprecedented access to the country by making the North Korean regime an official production partner and allowing officials complete control over the script.' - The Guardian


** Best Director, 2015 Black Nights International Film Festival Tallinn
** Best Documentary, 2015 Jihlava Documentary Film Festival
** 2015 DOKLeipzig Documentary Film Festival
** 2015 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
** Jury Bravery Award, 2016 Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
** 2016 Docpoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival
** 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)
** 2016 DOXA Documentary Film Festival
** 2016 San Francisco Film Festival
** 2016 Hot Docs Film Festival
** 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival
** 2016 Seattle International Film Festival


Main credits

Manskiĭ, Vitaliĭ (director)
Ivanova, Alexandra (director of photography)
Paperniy, Andrey (editor of moving image work)
Manskaya, Natalya (film producer)

Other credits

Director of potography, Alexandra Ivanova; camera operator, Mihail Gorobchuk; edited by Andrey Paperniy; produced by Natalya Manskaya; location sound recordist and field interpreter, Evgeniya Lachina; music composed by Karlis Auzans; sound director, Anrus Krenbergs; co-producer, Simone Baumann, Filip Remunda, Peter Kubica.

Distributor credits

A film by Vitaly Mansky

Docuseek2 subjects

Anthropology and Archaeology
Asian-American Studies
Documentary Films
Human Rights
Politics and Political Science

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Cinema Studies
Human RIghts
Political Science


Korea; family; North Korea; Asia; Kim Jong-Il; censorship; propaganda; human rights; "Under the Sun"; Icarus Films

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