East Side Story

Photo Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival

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One of the most exciting discoveries of this year's Festival, Eost Side Story is both hilarious and utterly revelatory exploration of an apparent paradox in cinematic history - the Socialist Musical! During the fiffies and sixties, socialist countries of the Iron Curtain were certainly better known for their facade of bleak oppression than rollicking humor or fun-filled extravagance. With its astounding compilation of clips from musicals of the eastern bloc, Eost Side Story portrays the colorful flip side of socialism.

Were socialist musicals merely government propaganda to make its own ideology sexy and combat the perilous appeal of Hollywood? How was it possible to portray the ideals of socialism in a genre considered "the most flagrant offspring of the capitalistic pleasure industry"? With elaborate sets, astonishing musical numbers, and even CinemaScope and stereo sound, Eost Side Story unearths astonishing proof of the tremendous accomplishment of and popular enthusiasm for these "lost children" of the socialist film industry. From Tractor Drivers, an ode-to-the-joys-of-la bor musical, to Hot Summer, a teen-dream tribute to Beoch Blanket Bingo, socialist musicals prove as inventive and lavish as American counterparts.

Following decades of opposition from both censor and studio officials for being too bourgeois and entertaining, the socialist musical was firrally laid to rest in 1973. As director Dana Ranga puts it, "Who knows what might have happened to socialism had it been more fun?"
-Rebecca Yeldham

Directed by: Dana Ranga
Written by: Dana Ranga, Andrew Horn

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