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Beyond Utopia

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“A staggering look at the nightmare of North Korea and the brave souls who try to escape it” - Variety

“A first-class example of bravery and reportage melding into a filmed testament.” - Screen

“A staggering achievement, the sort of nonfiction project that takes unfathomable guts and skill” - Playlist

“An astonishing real-life geopolitical thriller” - The Hollywood Reporter

A suspenseful look at the lengths people will go to gain freedom, Beyond Utopia follows various individuals as they attempt to flee North Korea, one of the most oppressive places on Earth, a land they grew up believing was a paradise. At the film’s core are a mother desperate to reunite with the child she was forced to leave behind; a family of five — including small children and an elderly grandmother — embarking on a treacherous journey across the Yalu River and into the hostile mountains of China; and a man of God on a mission to help these desperate souls. Leaving their homeland is fraught with danger — severe punishment if caught and possibly even execution — as well as potential exploitation by unscrupulous brokers. Family members who remain behind also may face retribution. Yet these individuals are driven to take the risk. Gripping, visceral, and urgent, Madeleine Gavin’s film embeds the viewer with these family members as they attempt their perilous escape, palpably conveying life-or- death stakes. The result is a singular, illuminating, and unforgettable experience.

Rating Information:
Real violence, bloody images, images of real dead bodies
Run time:
117 mins
Year of release:
Madeleine Gavin
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