Crossing the Line

Directed by Daniel Gordon

Release Year: 2007
Running Time: 91
Color Type: Color
Country: North Korea, U.K.
Language: English and Korean with optional English subtitles [audio]
Genres: Documentary
Subjects: Asian Studies
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Screening Info
Cast
Charles Robert Jenkins
James Dresnok

Crew
Editor Christian Slater
Directed by Daniel Gordon

An “unforgettable documentary” (New York Daily News), Crossing the Line is the “absolutely fascinating” (Hollywood Reporter) story of James Joseph Dresnok, a US Army private who in 1962 stunned the world by walking across the violently contested DMZ that cuts Korea in two and defecting to the communist North.

Taking full advantage of access granted by the government of North Korea, the “axis of evil’s” mysterious and feared rogue state, director Daniel Gordon (The Game of Their Lives, A State of Mind) combines historical footage with contemporary interviews to both uncover the Kim-Jong Il regime and end 44 years of secrecy and rumor by allowing Dresnok to tell his own story.

Despite spending more than half his life living, working, and raising a family in North Korea, “Comrade Joe,” as Western media dubbed Dresnok when he walked into infamy at the height of the Cold War, remains a man of eternally divided loyalties. From his appalling childhood in a rural 1950’s Virginia foster home, to interviews with his fellow GI’s, to “amazing footage” (New York Post) of Dresnok playing the villain in Kim-Jong Il’s personally produced propaganda films, Crossing the Line “makes an already compelling story even more so” (Hollywood Reporter) by intimately revealing a character “worthy of Werner Herzog’s delusional hero-victims” (New York Sun).

Educational Reviews

"...the tone is matter-of-fact rather than emotional and all the more effective for it." *** Recommended Video Librarian

Critical Acclaim

“RIVETING.” – Matt Zoller Seitz, THE NEW YORK TIMES

“ASTONISHING... The sheer strangeness of (Comrade Joe) Dresnok’s experience makes this film absorbing; the glimpses of the North Korean way of life make it essential.”– Richard Brody, THE NEW YORKER

Awards

  • Grand Jury Prize (Documentary) Sundance Film Festival
    Official Selection Berlinale