In 2007, a little miracle happened, as the North Korean women’s football team made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Film director Brigitte Weich followed the team’s success story between 2003 and 2007, capturing it in the 2009 documentary Hana, dul, sed… Five years later, Weich arrives in North Korea to catch up with the protagonists of the film – cameras rolling again, of course.
In the documentary Ned, Tassot, Yossot the four now-retired soccer players talk about their lives during and after their sports careers. Candid discussions cover a range of topics from the status of female athletes to parental expectations, appearance, and combining career and family. Alongside the former athletes, the film features the only female film director in North Korea, who has directed a TV drama about the team. Clips from the series emphasizing the traditional femininity and devoted patriotism of its protagonists offer a different perspective on the topic, one accepted by the party apparatus.
Functions of the North Korean system are subtly exposed. The gray streetscapes of Pyongyang are decorated with political slogans and huge statues depicting the late dictators, and the interviewees express overflowing feelings of gratitude towards the country’s leadership. Observations on media control are transmitted between the lines, contrasting the openness with which the protagonists talk about their lives. This creates a thought-provoking tension in the otherwise somewhat lighthearted film.
Brigitte Weich attends the screening of her film Ned, Tassot, Yossot on Fri, Feb 2.