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IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER?

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

See also...

Sprout Wings and Fly

There are no naked women in Les Blank's film, but the music is equally good. It is a touching tribute to Appalachian culture in the form of a profile of the legendary mountain fiddler, Tommy Jarrell ... More »

BURDEN OF DREAMS

A fascinating and controversial look at the ill-starred production of Werner Herzog's five-years-in-the-making feature, Fitzcarraldo. Set in the jungle of Peru, Fitzcarraldois the story of a mad ... More »

Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella

... ... At the start of his brand-new documentary on master Afro-Cuban drummer and composer Francisco Aguabeila, Les Blank throws us right into the heat and passion of a 1985 Aguabeila gig at Cesar's ... More »

Julie: Old Time Tales of Blue Ridge

The star of Julie is Julie Jarrell Lyons, who was born in 1903 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. In telling the stories of her life, Julie evokes in an inimitable way a world gone by ... More »

Marc and Ann

Les Blank's Flower Films presents the latest m a series of films on Louisiana and Caj'un cul­ture by filmmakers Les Blank, Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon. "It bit me and got a hold of me and I ... More »

Puamana

Puaniana is a portrait of the elegant and vener­ated Irmgard Farden Aluli, one of Hawaii's best loved composers. The name Puamana is central to Inngard's life — it is the name of the family ... More »

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