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Finland, 1993 (MIFF 1994)

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

It's inspired. It's crazed. It's beyond imagining. It's a rock'n roll detente. A pop perestroika. It's the Total Balalaika Show!

In the beginning there was an idea - a joke - an incredible one. To have a Finnish rock'n roll group perform together with one of the most famous and magnificent choruses in the world, the Red Army Ensemble. But on June 12, 1993, more than seventy thousand people packed the old city square in Helsinki to witness an historic event. The Leningrad Cowboys performed together with over one hundred singers, forty musicians and twenty dancers of the Alexanrov Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble. The evening's programme included rock classics from 'Happy Together' to 'Gimme All Your Lovin', as well as traditional hits from the chorus' own repertoire and trans-continental pop classics (such as Mary Hopkins 'Those Were the Days' and Tom Jones', 'Delilah') all given the Leningrad Cowboys treatment. Total Balalaika Show is a documentary of that mammoth musical meeting, a filmic record of the concert it's hard to believe someone actually thought up, let alone managed to pull off. A titanic encounter of the old and the new, of East and West. Not just a cultural and political hybrid of great significance but also one hell of a show. The sight of robust, middle aged Muscovites harmonising on Dylan's 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' with full balalaika backing ringing out is a sight you wish John Lennon could have lived to see.

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