Saturday 24 November 2012

"Cinema Komunisto" (Guardian 23/11/12)

Cinema Komunisto (no cert) 100 mins ***

Mila Turajlic’s brash and diverting – if slightly disorganised – documentary illustrates how closely Yugoslavian cinema was tied to the Tito regime. Funded by workers, starring soldiers who lent them whatever authenticity they had, these films were often script-approved by Tito himself, an acutely image-aware movie buff. Extracts suggest endless partisan dust-ups and labour-camp singalongs (“Carrying rocks is so much fun!”) sustaining the co-productions that brought Orson Welles, among others, to the country, though one wishes Turajlic had labelled them more diligently: if all this dead ideology really merits further study – as lessons from history, like those Soviet tractor musicals – we needed to have their titles close by. Her interviews are revealing, though: as industry survivors kick around the FYR’s rusting, dusty infrastructure, what emerges is a region-specific form of ostalgie – for a time when the Balkan states played on the very same soundstage. 

Cinema Komunisto is in selected cinemas ahead of its DVD release on December 3.

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