Alternative comedy might be defined as telling jokes even though you know that no one but you will get the punch line. As such, the mecca of alternative comedy must be North Korea — think of all those Freudian jokes about perfect formations, and the black comedy of power outages. Theocratic dictatorships have a lot in common with comedy, what with all the killing and bombing. The Red Chapel is a 2009 film about a trio of Danes — one is an unscrupulous journalist, the other two are comedians of mixed Korean descent — and their ersatz theater group, the Red Chapel. They present themselves as sympathetic to North Korea's rulers but, naturally, they have a hidden agenda. In the filmmaking tradition of Dogme 95 — one of the comedians is a self-described “spastic” — it's a horrifying, immediate look at a corner of the world that's absurd and absurdly overgoverned. As the North Korean government officials groom the group's art for mass consumption, it's a metaphor for the surrender of creative control, something that happens more often (but less melodramatically) than audiences usually know.
March 4-10, 7:15 p.m., 2011
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