Skip to main content

EAST SIDE STORY

Germany, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Dana Ranga

Films showing workers singing in fields, teenagers dancing on the beach, or glam­orous working women are not widely associated with socialist European countries. This may change with Dana Ranga's entertaining docu­mentary which reveals that a succession of socialist musicals were made in the USSR, East Germany and other Eastern Bloc countries from the 1930s to the 1970s. The film excerpts seen here span a wide range of musical and visual styles, from torch songs and raunchy rock'n'roll to anthemic numbers with tractors moving in time to music. In both colour and black and white, some of these spectacles rival scenes in the Hollywood extravaganzas, which were the obvious influence on socialist musicals.

With an emphasis on movies from East Ger­many and the USSR, Ranga's film reveals that musicals were enormously popular with cinema-goers, but less so with socialist governments, which felt that these films evoked the "capitalist pleasure industry" of Hollywood. The Soviet musicals show the choreographing of labour, as dancing in hayfields was considered inappropri­ate for a socialist cinema. Yet the most popular socialist musicals enabled spectators to escape from everyday concerns, by evoking feelings of optimism, romance, energy and freedom.

See also...

PIANOMANIA

It's said that you save 50% energy when you're satisfied with 90% of perfection - this film is about the last ten percent. ... Eighty-eight keys, 230 strings on a cast iron frame, a weight of 480 ... More »

INTO GREAT SILENCE

Into Great Silence was winner of a Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Nestled in the French Alps, the Grand Chartreuse monastery is home to the Carthusian Order, one of the ... More »

BETWEEN THE LINES - INDIA'S THIRD GENDER

Following the quest of photographer Anita Khemka, Between the Lines eloquently captures the life and many hardships of India's discarded citizens, the Hijras or eunuchs. ... Living as outcasts on the ... More »

BERLIN BABYLON

"The Angel of History...sees a single catastrophe. Rubble piles up relentlessty, layers of it are hurled at his feet. He longs to linger, to wake the dead and reconstruct the rubble. But a storm has ... More »

SEE WHAT HAPPENS: THE STORY OF D.A. PENNEBAKER AND CHRIS HEGEDUS

Documentaries about documentary makers are always fascinating propositions, especially when the subjects of the film are as renowned as D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Gerold Hofrnann's film ... More »

KHODORKOVSKY

"For me, as for anybody, it is hard to live in prison, and I do not want to die here. But if I have to, I will have no hesitation. What I believe in is worth dying for." - Mikhail Khodorkovsky ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director