A winning, life-affirming fable about a young coal miner’s pursuit of her dream to become an acrobat, COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING marks a milestone in film history: it is the first Western-financed fiction feature made entirely in North Korea. But this charming film wears its heavy historical mantle with grace, weaving a lovely, light-hearted tale whose themes — overcoming adversity, and realizing the dream of a lifetime—upend our assumptions of a largely cloistered culture.
Kim Yong-mi (Han Jong-sim) works as a coal miner in a small village. She dreams of one day joining the national circus and performing on the trapeze — despite the fact that she is deathly afraid of heights. When she is promoted and sent to the capital, Pyongyang, she seizes the opportunity to make her dream come true. Insinuating herself into the circus and struggling to overcome her acrophobia, Yong-mi meets Pak Jang-phil (Pak Chung-guk), the arrogant, good-looking star of the Pyongyang Trapeze Troupe. At first, Jang-phil makes fun of the congenitally klutzy Yong-mi. But eventually her beauty, endearing personality and unyielding determination win him over, and give him a valuable lesson in humility.
The team behind COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING — co-writer and co-director Nicholas Bonner, an Englishman based in Beijing who has long promoted cultural exchange with North Korea; his collaborator Kim Gwang-hun, a North Korean filmmaker; and Belgian filmmaker Anja Daelemans, who also served as co-producer — spent six years putting this unprecedented project together, overcoming numerous difficulties — not least the fact that their stars are actual circus acrobats who had never acted before. But the result is a gorgeously filmed romantic comedy that transports us to a fantastic world seemingly out of time, with astonishing, candy-colored images of the seldom-seen North Korea.
Synopsis written by: Toronto