Mila Turajlic's “Cinema Komunisto” is a Serbian documentary that explores a fascinating piece of history little known outside Eastern Europe. Through the eyes of actors and directors, set designers, and studio bosses glimpsed both in archival footage and in present-day interviews, we're treated to the inside scoop on the golden age of the Yugoslavian film industry, one that not coincidentally coincided with President Josip Broz Tito's ironhanded reign. Filmmaking it turns out wasn't just an interest, but a top priority for this communist dictator, a cinephile who loved westerns, Kirk Douglas, and John Wayne. From the start of Turajlic's rigorously researched doc, which incorporates catchy upbeat music from the era, adding spice to the often-surprising images, we're told that “Cinema Komunisto” is about a country that doesn't exist—except in its movies. That politics and film are both delicate realms of illusion is something Tito intuitively seemed to grasp all too well.
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