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1028 Scott Blvd., Covington KY 41011 859-491-2030
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* NOTE: Any ticket physically sold by the CARNEGIE incurs a $1.00 facility charge in addition to the face value of the ticket -- this applies to tix purchased in advance by phone or in person, and at the door.
HOW TO GET TICKETS
§ Dinner Tickets:
§ Film & Discussion Tickets:
in person and by telephone:
859 957 1943 — 1028 Scott Blvd, Covington KY
513 281 7487 — Ludlow Avenue, Clifton
513 871 8626 — Mt. Lookout Square
513 591 0123 — Hamilton Ave, Northside
513 651 5483 — Downtown Cincinnati
Film and Discussion tickets will be available at the door, unless sold out in advance.
About the Foreign Policy Leadership Council
The Foreign Policy Leadership Council of Greater Cincinnati (FPLC) is a regional Cincinnati organization comprised of former government officials, academics, business leaders, writers and emerging leaders who seek to help shape the next generation of thinking about US foreign policy, its domestic impact and America's place in the world.
The FPLC is an affiliate of the National Security Network of Washington, D.C., one of the nation's leading nonpartisan organizations devoted to serious study, analysis and education about national security and foreign policy.
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Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, THE RED CHAPEL is unconventional and politically incorrect guerilla filmmaking — a funny, touching, outrageous and revealing peek into the totalitarian regime of the DPRK.
Most of us will never be able to visit North Korea. But, through collaboration with the Foreign Policy Leadership Council of Greater Cincinnati, we have the uncommon opportunity to learn from experts with first-hand experience in the DPRK, via the companion Dinner & Speaker Program offered before each night's screening.
About The Film
DANISH FILMMAKER, JOURNALIST and TV host Mads Brügger wanted to make a film about the DPRK's terrible conditions, "to expose the very core of the evilness of North Korea." After learning that a cultural exchange mission might be possible, he set about to devise a cover story that would make his project attactive to the DPRK authorities.
BRÜGGER FOUND TWO YOUNG MEN with acting/comedy performance backgrounds, Jacob Nossell and Simon Jul, both born in South Korea, adopted and raised from infancy in Denmark. Neither of which speak Korean. Next, he created a fake comedy troupe called "The Red Chapel," after a WWII spy ring.
HE PRESENTED THE CONCEPT to the DPRK as a "homecoming" visit for the two Danes of Korean descent, including a comedy performance for North Korean audiences. Lured by the PR possibilities, the DPRK granted Brügger two-week access, and amazingly, included consent to document their preparations on film provided the tapes are reviewed nightly by the government.
THE RED CHAPEL'S STORY LINE unfolds as a comedic espionage film: the Danes covertly planned their expedition to expose conditions in North Korea, while their Korean hosts were more overt in their attempts to manipulate the visitors for positive publicity. There is plenty of thrust-and-parry, reminiscent of "Spy-vs-Spy" as Brügger unleashes an intentionally horrendous comedy skit and the Koreans counter with script changes that turn the routine into a paean to the "Dear Leader" and "One Korea."
BUT THE MEAT OF The Red Chapel is in the fascinating back story of Simon Jul and particularly Jacob Nossell. Jacob suffers from spastic paralysis, which triggers an oddly combined sense of unease and opportunism among the DRPK authorities. Evidencing a certain pride in his skill in handling his disablility, Jacob refers to himself as a "spastic," a term much less perjorative in Denmark than in the U.S.
JACOB'S DISABILITY IS PHYSICAL — mentally, he's sharp as a tack — and his speech impediment virtually ensures that the Koreans (even if they could understand Danish) will not understand Jacob. All of which enhances the subterfuge, as the troupe disses the Koreans in Danish while holding normal communication with them in English.
FOR EXTERNAL CONSUMPTION, the North Koreans want Jacob as their poster boy, as the regime has a serious world-opinion problem regarding the out-of-sight "warehousing" and mistreatment of their disabled population. For internal appearances and performances, DPRK honchos are uncomfortable in his presence and want Jacob to "pretend" he is disabled and periodically pop up out of his wheelchair to appear "normal."
MEANWHILE, JACOB IS BECOMING more and more depressed, because disabled citizens are nowhere to be seen in Pyongyong, lending credence to the rumors that the DPRK kills them at birth and/or banishes them to farms where they are left to perish.
THE RED CHAPEL DOES NOT ATTEMPT to visually capture the conditions in North Korea that would be most damning - the labor camps, the poverty, the starvation; nor is there much interaction with locals. Why? Simply because it is not possible. The filmmakers are denied access to such scenes; and the "regular" people they encounter are either programmed by the state or off-limits. Moreover, each night the DPRK censors confiscate the daily footage to check for anything that might be unflattering to the regime.
SO, UNDER THESE CONSTRAINTS the film cannot deliver a visceral, visual condemnation in bright neon letters, consistent with Brügger's ongoing anti-Kim Jong-il diatribe. Instead, viewers are asked to discern the "between the lines" instances that convey the surreal Orwellian state that is North Korea. Look for the scenes involving Mrs. Pak, the official "minder" and chaperone assigned to the group; also for the glassy-eyed group of school children with fixed smiles and robotic mannerisms rolled out for public functions.
BRÜGGER'S FAILURE WITH SENSATIONALISM begets more meaningful success: the emphasis shifts to Jacob — his developing relationship with, and conflicted feelings toward, Mrs. Pak; as well as the tension that develops between Jacob and Brügger regarding the ethics of exploitation and the moral ambiguity of project in general. It becomes clear that Jacob has perhaps the greatest emotional and intellectual investment in the group effort, as well as the most integrity. Look for the scene with the DPRK Army parade, where Jacob takes a stand that perserves his dignity and principles.
FEW FILMS PUT DISABLED INDIVIDUALS center stage and enable them to shine. Conceptual/directorial flaws aside, Mads Brügger should be recognized for encouraging and capturing Jacob and his interaction with the troupe, the authorities and in particular, Mrs. Pak. Brügger on Jacob, after returning from North Korea: "In many ways, what he has done was like Frodo going to Mordor and throwing the ring in the volcano."
In her thoughtful analysis, Pamela Cohn observes: "He [Jacob] is the deepest thinker, the most intensely emotional, most adversely affected subject in this whole shebang, incessantly articulating why following an ironical conformist into a conformist society with no irony can be a bloody dangerous thing. And so young Jacob turns out to be the steadfast baseline of this particular triangle..."
Interview with Mads Brügger Q & A with Jacob Nossell Annotated Reviews
The dinner program preceding the film both evenings will enhance your understanding of North Korea and allow you to meld film content with current perspectives of North Korea provided by experts with time on the ground in the DPRK.
The reservation deadline is 4:00 pm, Monday April 4 for the Tuesday dinner; and 4:00 pm Tuesday April 5 for the Wednesday dinner. To obtain dinner tickets ($25 for FPLC members, $30 general public), contact Mrs. Kathy Strunk via email, or call 513 651 6166, 8:00am-4:30pm. You can also place your reservation online via CWC WebTix.
Please join us for good company, excellent speakers and great food from the Europa Bistro & Café. Program details are below.
Dinner Program, Tuesday April 5
Speakers: James Min and Robert Springs
Approximate breakout (with some overlap): dinner, 5:30-6:00; speakers, 6:00-6:55.
Program Note: Mssrs. Min and Springs will also participate in the discussion following the film.
Mr. Min is VP/Legal for DHL Americas. With a deep background in customs, export control and international trade law, prior public service at US Treasury and degrees from Johns Hopkins and American University, James publishes and speaks frequently about North Korea.
Mr. Springs is CEO of Global Resources Services, a non-profit humanitarian aid and capacity building organization operating in North Korea since 1997.
A construction contractor by background, he worked in South Korea from 1985-95 and is devoted to humanitarian and aid programs in North Korea. He has traveled to North Korea over 50 times. Robert is a FPLC member and Co-Chair of the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK.Org).
Dinner Program, Wednesday April 6
Speaker: Paul Carroll
Approximate breakout (with some overlap): dinner, 5:30-6:00; speakers, 6:00-6:55.
Program Note: Mr. Carroll will also participate in the discussion following the film.
Mr. Carroll is Program Director at the Ploughshares Fund in San Francisco. He manages grants and strategy aimed at reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons. Paul leads Ploughshares' effort to influence US policy towards North Korea through engagement and diplomacy.
With recent trips to North Korea and a career in technology, energy, the environment and public policy, Paul will discuss how a country often vilified and caricatured, led by a reclusive and puzzling figure, is frozen and isolated in a world increasingly interconnected. With 23 million people living in poverty, the DPRK has a trump card - a rudimentary nuclear weapons capability. He will suggest the best way forward for the US and rest of the world in dealing with North Korea.
Ploughshares Fund is the US' largest grant-making foundation exclusively devoted to security and peace funding. It has a quarter-century record of funding smart people with the best ideas for preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons and building stable regions.