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Political film from China, USA, Iran, and the USSR

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These films are about economy, ideology, industrial society, or war.

Blind Shaft, directed by Li Yang. This is a Chinese film about con artists working in coal mines, and shows some of the hardships associated with contemporary working life. This film is part of what is sometimes called Sixth Generation Chinese cinema, a style and period that has moved away from the gloss, shine and romanticism of some earlier films. Blind Shaft has a lot in common with Italian neorealism, and though it follows the story of two people, you get a clear sense of the wider social condition faced by the working poor. I feel that there are many similarities with some later Iranian films, that investigate hardship in the daily life of many poor people, the banality of administrative politics and its dislocation from many pressing social concerns.

Here’s a trailer of the film:

The Afghan Alphabet, directed and narrated by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. This is an Iranian documentary of Afghan refugees in Iran. The main focus is on children receiving education for the first time in their refugee camps.

The first third of this video clip is from the documentary:

Modern Times, by Charlie Chaplin. This is a classic about the struggle to work and live in a modernized industrial society.

See the film here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7

Part 1:

I am Cuba, directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. Is a stunningly beautifully filmed Soviet and Cuban creation, quite overtly a piece of propaganda. It’s from 1964.

Here’s a clip from the film, I had a hard time finding a decent video:

Make mine Freedom, produced by Harding College. This animated film is a fascinating work of overt propaganda about ideology: on capitalism and communism. I think it’s from 1948.

Here’s the video:

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