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By Cindy Widner, March 19, 2010, Screens

The Red Chapel

Documentary Feature, Festival Favorites
D: Mads Brügger, Johan Stahl (assistant director)

That The Red Chapel was made at all is impressive; that it is often hilarious is a bonus. Operating from the premise that "comedy is the soft spot of all dictatorships," director Mads Brügger, comedian Simon Jul Jørgensen, and self-described "spastic" Jacob Nossell, Danes all, travel to North Korea in the guise of being some sort of (quite bad) sketch-comedy act seeking cultural exchange. In reality, they intend to expose the effects of the regime on its people. The trio bumble through a series of ever more ridiculous and strange situations, ultimately finding themselves participants in a Nuremberg-style state rally. The results would read as dada if not for the emotional crises experienced by Jul Jørgensen and, particularly, Nossell – both born in South Korea but adopted and raised in Denmark – who challenge Brügger's seemingly endless capacity for duplicity in the name of exposing evil; a project that could have been a kind of propaganda comedy in its own right becomes a more confounding, and more fulfilling, film.

Saturday, March 20, 9pm, Lamar 3

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