A State of Mind

A fascinating mixture of cinema verite and essay filmmaking A State Of Mind connects culture, history and politics into a complex exploration of one of the world's most closed nations - North Korea. After extensive negotiations with Pyongyang government, filmmaker Daniel Gordon and producer Nicolas Bonner were granted unprecedented - and unrestricted - access to film a pair of gymnast instruction, 11-year-old Kim Song Yun and 13-year-old Pak Hyon Sun practiced through exhaustion - doing pirouettes and cartwheels on a cement floor - and proudly displayed their love for great General Kim Jong II. But more than a character expose, A State Of Mind unravels some of the political meaning behind this epic sports celebration while placing the country's current political status - as a "rogue nation" - in perspective with some of its most important and traumatic historical moments. While A State Of Mind brings never-before-seen images of state -regulated schools, pubs and artistic performances, it is its daring ability to illustrate "the hardships of their lives in a manner almost never permitted by the Pyongyang government" (Anthony Faiola, Washington Post) that makes this a "terrific" (Amy Taubin, Film Comment) documentary. Yet, when the film explores how the brutal 1950s U.S. bombings - which killed over 2 million North Koreans - still as a lingering trauma in this nation of 22 million, one is forced to re-think several assumptions about the nature of anti-American sentiment to glimpse into the real North Korea.

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pyongyang north korea film comment daniel gordon amy taubin gymnastics cinéma vérité song yun the washington post