If you haven’t heard of THE RED CHAPEL, you’re not alone. The Danish docu-comedy made a big impression at last year’s festival, bringing home the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for best documentary, but got little play elsewhere. It’s a shame, because it’s everything you want a good documentary to be. It’s approach to exploring…
Image from THE RED CHAPEL.
One of the oddest non-fiction stunts in recent memory, THE RED CHAPEL combines two inherently dubious genres — the culture-clash comedy and the ambush documentary — and pushes them to surreal extremes. The film’s director, Mads Brügger, a Danish journalist, recruited two Danish-Korean performers, Simon Jul and Jacob Nossell (who is handicapped but prefers the term “spastic”) to pose as a comedy act, and convinced the North Korean authorities to allow them to perform in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, in the spirit of cultural exchange.