Life makes better stories. This is currently proven by 3 ingenious documentaries: “The Mole – Undercover in North Korea” by director Mads Brügger, “The Dissident” by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Bryan Fogel and “Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America” by Matthew O’Neill and Perri Peltz.
A brilliant documentary strips the harmlessness from everyday life and looks behind what moves the world and people. Whether with love, hate or – because sometimes nothing else is left and laughter gets stuck in the throat – with humour: “The Dissident”, “Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America” and “The Mole – Undercover in North Korea” are three absolutely recommendable and worth seeing documentaries that deserve a large audience!
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(as themselves) Jamal Khashoggi, Omar Abdulaziz, Fahrettin Altun, John O. Brennan
zz. “The Dissident” is a documentary film, which in its genesis unites all the absurdity of our political current affairs. It is the story of a murder without a body, which, according to some nocturnal people, should never have existed. Produced by Academy Award nominated director Bryan Fogel, the film still received a standing ovation when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Among those applauding in the audience was Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who was in attendance. Filmmaker Bryan Fogel had already produced his previous doc “Icarus” for Netflix and explicitly thanked the streaming provider for its support at the Oscars.
We are not trying to confront the powerful with the truth. We’re trying to entertain. Reed Hastings
His latest film, “The Dissident,” wasn’t helped by those connections: Its content was too explosive and dangerous for Netflix. Even Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, who appears in the documentary and publicly called for an investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote about Saudi Arabia for his Whasington Post newspaper, didn’t help the film get a deal with Amazon for now. None of the globally active streaming providers wanted to get their fingers burned on Khashoggi’s murder. For this reason alone, Amazon and Apple deserve a lot of credit for making this ingeniously made documentary about a state-ordered contract killing available to a large audience on the web these days.
This brilliant documentary is definitely worthy of an Oscar! Suspenseful as a thriller, director Fogel uncovers what happened in the final hours of Jamal Khashoggi, who went to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul for nothing more than to collect his marriage papers. His documentary manages to ask uncomfortable questions while being highly suspenseful. The Filmpuls editorial staff thinks: absolutely worth seeing.
(as themselves) Ulrich Løvenskjold Larsen, Mads Brügger, Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Pérez
Action Thriller Documentary
apri. There are things that don’t exist. There’s a chef who makes himself a secret agent. And a gangster who pretends to be a billionaire because they both want to improve the world together: “The Mole – Undercover in North Korea” is a real-life docu-thriller about two ordinary men who embark on an outrageously dangerous ten-year (!) mission. This to penetrate the most secretive and brutal dictatorship in the world: North Korea.
The documentary tells the true story of “The Mole”, an ordinary family man from Denmark (Ulrich Løvenskjold Larsen) who tries his hand at being an agent and, together with “Mr. James”, a former jet-set cocaine dealer posing as a Scandinavian billionaire, wants to uncover the machinations of the North Korean regime virtually single-handedly with a hidden camera. More than once, the family man, whose wife knows nothing of his mad project, puts himself in mortal danger.
Together with director Mads Brügger, Ulrich Løvenskjold Larsen reveals that North Korea is violating UN sanctions by trading arms. In an unbelievable way, Larsen, as a mole, gains access step by step to the centre of a real, internationally active criminal network that produces drugs and weapons for dubious clients and distributes them worldwide.
The protagonists in the documentary film document their meetings with hidden cameras and microphones. They film when contracts are signed, deals are negotiated, or she is privy to a plan to build a top-secret underground weapons and drug factory on a private island somewhere in Africa, to be disguised as a luxury hotel. It is not always clear whether one should suspect intent where stupidity and audacity go hand in hand.
North Korea says Danish documentary on alleged sanctions breach is ‘fabricated’ Reuters, 10/15/20
If this story were told as a feature film, no one would believe it! The events are so unbelievable, so deeply human and authentic that they develop an inimitable pull and virtually suck you into the plot. The editors of Filmpuls recommend: definitely watch it – there’s no better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than with the documentary “The Mole – Undercover in North Korea”.
(as themselves) Steve Berkoff, Barbara Jean, Emily Mathias
zz. Human life, as we know, is a temporary state. In “Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America,” directors Matthew O’Neill and Perri Peltz explore the question of how awareness of one’s own transience and doing business with death is evolving at a time when the church and religion are weakening. In this documentary, they travel across the USA and portray people who have consciously chosen their death or the type of burial from a variety of options. Whether it’s a bio-burial, a last wild ride into space on a rocket, or simply a dignified death, in the land of opportunity, anything seems to be possible (and at the end of the day, anyone is willing to reach into their wallet for).
It is to the credit of this impressive documentary that it is never voyeuristic and acts with incredible sensitivity towards the sick participants and their relatives. The camera selflessly looks, the film asks questions, but leaves it up to the viewer to find his or her own personal answer to dealing with death. Because the filmmakers have understood that this is probably the only justifiable way for an enlightened person to deal with the subject of death. From the point of view of the editors of Filmpuls, this is an indispensable film for all those who love life, but who also want to confront themselves with fundamental questions about their own existence.
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