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USA, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Les Blank

As versatile an ethno-musicologist as Mr Blank is, his approach to his material involves at least as much warmth as scholarship. The music, as depicted here, becomes a natural unfiltered reflection of people's lives and values, as well as something that fills them with delight In Heaven There Is No Beer? is enough to win converts to polka, that's for sure. Mr Blank visits a number of intensive polka sessions (one of them an 11-day marathon) and observes the wildly enthusiastic participants. A few wear traditional polka garb, but a lot more dance in anything from double-knit polyester suits to bikinis, and all seem to be having a fabulous time. And if loving polka music means bucking convention, so much the better... Mr Blank's playfulness here matches that of the participants. To illustrate a song called Someone Stole a Kizska, he films his editor, Maureen Gosling, as she re-enacts the sausage theft of the lyrics... Mr Blank also examines the dancers' Polish patriotism and their polka regalia, concluding that they may find a close and authentic sense of community through this form of folk art.

-Janet Maslin, N.Y: Times

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