The Red Chapel

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The Red Chapel
The Red Chapel.jpg
Directed byMads Brügger
Produced byPeter Engel
Peter Aalbæk Jensen
CinematographyRené Sascha Johannsen
Edited byRené Sascha Johannsen
Distributed byKino Lorber Films
Release date
  • May 4, 2009 (2009-05-04) (Hot Docs)
  • August 30, 2009 (2009-08-30) (Denmark)
Running time
88 minutes

The Red Chapel (Danish: Det Røde Kapel) is a 2009 Danish documentary film directed by Mads Brügger. It chronicles the visit of Brügger and two Danish comedians who were adopted from Korea, Jacob Nossell and Simon Jul, to North Korea under the pretense of a small theatre troupe on a cultural exchange. This is also the first time the two comedians have ever visited North Korea.[1] The entire trip is a ruse: the trio are actually trying to get a chance to portray the absurdity of the pantomime life they are forced to lead in the DPRK. The film turns deeply emotional as Jacob Nossell has spastic paralysis and North Korea has been accused of disposing of the disabled. The film won Best Nordic Documentary at Nordisk Panorama 2009 and Best Foreign Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it was included in the Official Selection. It is filmed and edited by René Sascha Johannsen.

The film features roughly the same contents as the 4-part documentary series Det Røde Kapel.


The authorities demand much control over the performance of the theatre troupe, and try to use it for propaganda purposes. The film crew plays along, but among themselves and in the voice-over they are critical of the regime.


Los Angeles Times reviewer Mark Olson called it "shocking, funny and wildly outrageous" and "a real find".[2] Kyle Smith from the New York Post described it as "a clear-eyed and inspired documentary".[3] The New York Times reviewer Neil Genzlinger found it sloppy and thought it had "no revelations to offer".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fraser, Nick (January 31, 2010). "Sundance film festival roundup". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  2. ^ Mark Olsen (January 30, 2010). "Sundance 2010: Satire and smarts in 'The Red Chapel' and 'The Imperialists Are Still Alive!'". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Kyle Smith (29 December 2010). "Korean commie comedy". New York Post.
  4. ^ Neil Genzlinger (28 December 2010). "A Fake Danish Comedy Troupe Goes To North Korea, With Strange Results". The New York Times.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rough Aunties
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: World Cinema Documentary
Succeeded by
Hell and Back Again