‘Det Rode Kapel’ which was presented in Israel by cable TV documentary channel 8 succeeds to do what very few documentary film makers succeeded to do in the last few decades – enter the secluded space of the North Korean Popular Democratic Republic and film there. The glimpse that we get of the landscape and people of North Korea is rare, and the documentary value needs to be saluted. It is however also a deformed image, as the group of comedy artists sent in a ‘cultural exchange’ have been taken only to certain places and have been allowed to film only certain aspects of what they have seen.

(video by bingsflex)

It is in the permanent discrepancy between the mode of life and thinking of the authors and what they do on screen (and did during the visit) that resides the intriguing character of the film. In order to be allowed to make the film they had to take part in the show prepared by the North Korean authorities, to place flowers at the Leader’s monument, tp participate in an anti-US demonstration and to recite slogans on stage. It was an uneasy compromise, as we understand from the comments made off-screen. To underline the situation the author frames the film within the rules of cinematic creation written by the Dear Leader himself. Sometimes the meetings and dialogs with people in North Korea look more as absurd comedy than what happened on stage. Was it worth? An open question.