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A State of Mind (Unrated)

Release Date: August 10th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by Kino International.
Directed by Daniel Gordon.
In Korean and English with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about two young North Korean girls who go through gymnastics training to prepare for the famous Mass Games.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The Mass Games is a form of entertainment where many young Koreans perform gymnastic stunts that are designed to entertain their "Dear Leader", Kim Joon II . Millions of people gather to watch the show on television as well as live. It is amazing how the Korean girls can contort their bodies in so many different ways at such a young pre-teen age. The most visually stunning scenes are during the footage of the Mass Games when a collective group of gymnastic students form colorful shapes with perfect choreography and timing. Unfortunately, there aren't enough scenes like these because the majority of the film is focused on the lives of two young Korean girls. It is interesting to know the kind of lifestyle these girls have and what their upbringing is like. The camera follows them into their home as they dine with their family. They are not rich at all, but still manage to survive adequately. The government donated a television to one of the girl's families. It is funny how only a few channels work during a few hours of the day-- and just news channels. The real tension in this documentary comes during the last half-hour when the Mass Games are a few hours away. The girls prepare for this show as if it was a competition and the show itself feels like one. It is somewhat ironic that Kim Joon II does not show up to any of shows despite that it was meant to entertain him. It would have been interesting to see his reaction, but it is just as exciting to watch their parents react with awe.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The basic message is that with a focused mind, rigorous training, and plenty of practice, it is possible to achieve many wonders. Granted, it also takes skill but skill can be learned. There is also a feeling of camaraderie when the girls join the thousands of other girls to perform during the show. It is uplifting to watch them celebrate their skills during the show and not only please those that are watching it but themselves as well.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A documentary that is visually stunning at times and introduces the family life of two young performers. It is not as ultimately pleasing and warm as Mad Hot Ballroom, but it is still a worthy examination of an important part of a culture that brings people together.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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