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FROM RUSSIA WITH ROCK

USSR, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Marjaana Mykkanen

From Russia with Rock is the first overview of the Soviet rock scene, and in particular its unofficial representatives. In December 1987, a seven-day rock festival was staged in Moscow, the first ever such event in the Soviet Union. Mykkannen and her crew were there to cover the festival, a mixture of state-sanctioned pop and 'underground' Soviet bands, many of whom belong to a Moscow-based collective, Rock Laboratory.

The film interpolates tremendous concert footage with lots of off-stage excerpts; emotionally charged press conferences with officials and rock aficionados, interviews with people on the street and various band members. Brimming with a vitality as musical as it is visual, this rockumentary explores a phenomenon whose heart and beat are as yet unsullied by the glam trappings afflicting its Western counterpart.

The prime starting-point for the making of this film was the complete lack of information about Soviet rock outside the frontiers of that nation. The essential significance of the festival was that, for the first time, side by side with the officially-sanctioned mediocre outfits, controversial bands with audience appeal and underground status were allowed to perform on an official stage, bands whose names could not even be mentioned publicly two years earlier. From among these groups, Nautilus Pompilius from Sverdlovsk in Siberia proved to be the most interesting, not only for their exotic place of origin but also because of the originality of their music. We stayed on to follow how the band settled in Moscow, and got to witness their rise to become the most popular band in the city — and later in the entire nation.

From Russia With Rock captures the atmosphere of the time, the first steps of perestroika in action.' — Marjaana Mykkanen

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