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East Side Story review

This fascinating and entertaining documentary lifts the veil on an unknown chunk of cinema history: the Communist musical. Despite the Red authorities regarding the musical as the "most fragrant offspring of the capitalist pleasure industry", some 40 socialist singalongs were made behind the Iron Curtain during four secretive decades. Working on restricted budgets, the film-makers sought to blend entertainment and education to attract large audiences.

The documentary-makers have raided the archives for clips never seen in the West. There's Stalin's favourite Volga, Volga; East German teen romance Hot Summer; Czech homage to consumption, Woman On The Rails; and the self-reflexive Midnight Story, about the difficulties of making a socialist musical.

Elsewhere there're heartily-singing tractor drivers, farmers and textile workers, all praising the state. It's all dedicated to Karl Marx, "without whom," it says, "none of this would have been possible."

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