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BROAD BELLFLOWER, A

DPRK, 1987 (MIFF 2013, Juche Showtime: Films of the DPRK)

Director: Jo Kyong-sun

One of the most popular North Korean productions of the 1980s, Jo Kyong-sun's A Broad Bellflower earned its lead actress, O Mi-ran, the honorific title of People's Actor.

Telling two parallel stories – one set in the past, the other in the present – A Broad Bellflower is both a melodramatic tearjerker, centred on a budding romance and tragic exile, and a traditional North Korean tale about the importance of home.

Sisters Song Rim (O Mi-ran) and Song Hwa live together in their mountain village after being orphaned by the war. Song Rim is secretly engaged to local villager Won Bong, and when her younger sibling finds out she objects, fearing she'll be left all alone if Song Rim marries. When Won is seduced by the pull of the city, Song Hwa gets her wish: her sister refuses to be torn from their home and Won leaves without her. But years later, when Won's son arrives in the now prosperous village, he brings with him news that will shock everybody.

With evocative photography underscoring the classic themes in DPRK cinema of tradition, progress and personal ambition, this paean to family and community is a remarkable film.

D Jo Kyong-sun P Kye In Son S Ri Chun Gu WS Korea Film Export Import Corporation L Korean w/English subtitles TD digibeta/1987

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