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East Side Story
Time Out says
Romanian Dana Ranga and American Andrew Horn's documentary on the little known story of socialist musicals casts a colourful light on screen life behind the Iron Curtain, a place and time where the pressure on film-makers was to deliver didactic propaganda in the Socialist Realist vein, while light entertainment was frowned on as expensive decadence. Yet it was Stalin, an avid if unpredictable cinephile, who first championed the cause of Soviet musicals, promoting former Eisenstein assistant Grigori Alexandrov's musical comedy The Jolly Fellows over the work of frowning ideologues and apparatchiks. Later, East German audiences lapped up such '60s divertissements as My Wife Wants to Sing and Hot Summer. All in all, though, producing such trifles proved an uphill, thankless task, faced with technical, economic and official constraints, critical disregard and instant oblivion. Ranga and Horn approach their subject with a light, self-effacing touch.