What kind of nut would get livid over a sweet, romantic fantasy film? Meet the edible kernel right here, still fuming after a CAAMFest screening of "Comrade Kim Goes Flying."
You know the feeling of being made a schnook. You hear about "5,000 years of Chinese culture" and end up at Shen Yun's expensive mix of tired circus and shrill Falun Gong propaganda (not that Beijing doesn't have blood on its hand in their treatment).
Or suppose there is a film from North Korea and it turns out to be... what you expect from there.
But it wasn't that simple tonight: "Comrade Kim" didn't come from the North Korean regime, it only takes place there, and one of the directors - Nicholas Bonner - was on the team making the 2002 "The Game of Their Lives" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0354594/), a terrific documentary about the North Korean soccer team that stunned the then reigning UK team, going on to the quarterfinals of the 1966 World Cup.
But then Bonner appeared before the Sundance Kabuki screening tonight to say that "Comrade Kim" is also being screened, with great success, in North Korea. Hmmmm.
And then when the screening began, there was the schnook factor in all its in-glory. Plain and simple, Bonner and the production team have prostituted themselves to get access to the country and assure distribution there. No filmmakers from Pyongyang could have made a more clumsy, ridiculous, and unrestrained propaganda film under the guise of a romantic comedy.
From the bucolic countryside, with syrupy music, comes a child who wants to fly, so begins her journey through working in a mine, then on a construction to the Pyongyang circus and the triumph on the trapeze.
Here's the maddening part: countryside, mine, construction, roads, streets, crowds, the city are all immaculately, studio-floor clean, everybody is happy, well-fed, always in their Sunday best as it was Chuseok every day - no exception.
In a romantic comedy, little realism is expected, but to turn everything upside down and show a poor, struggling, oppressed country as a kind of MGM paradise: that's something else, and if it doesn't even come from that criminal government, but Western "artists," it's much, much worse.
I still remember, unfortunately, Soviet films about happy tractor drivers singing about the glory of Stalin. Those "works of art" were less ridiculous and offensive than "Comrade Kim." No, it's not "just a movie."