In Mads Brügger's Sundance winner "The Red Chapel", which has just enjoyed its US theatrical release at the IFC Center in New York, a journalist (Brügger) with no scruples and two comedians of South Korean descent travel to North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange visit. One of them, Jacob, suffers from spastic paralysis. With humour as their only weapon, they have set out to challenge one the world's most notorious regimes.
"For boldness of execution as well as vision, 'The Red Chapel' stands out as a singular, important comedy," writes New York Post, while The Village Voice calls it "an infectiously funny, gonzo glimpse into the sausage-making process of propaganda."
To most reviewers, a pivotal element of the film is the growing moral scruples experienced by the two comedians Simon Jul and Jacob Nossell. "Simon's multiple fits of conscience are the film's most compelling moments, especially when he is caught in a huge militaristic parade in which Brügger tries unsuccessfully to convince him to mimic the Nazi-like salutes around him," wrote Hollywood Reporter at the film's Sundance screening in January 2010.
The magazine named "The Red Chapel" a "cousin in a strange way to Lars Von Trier's 'The Idiots'", as Brügger uses society's discomfort with disability as a critical feature.
"The Red Chapel" is co-scripted by Mads Brügger and Simon Jul, filmed by René Johannsen and produced by Peter Engel for Zentropa. Lorber Film hold the US and Canadian distribution and DVD rights. Release in New York took place on 29 December at the IFC Center in New York.