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17. FDF: Gold Spinners

We can also see this film as some sort of a commercial showing of the Soviet Union. It is a show, uncovering how the system behind the iron curtain actually worked.

FILM SEMINAR: MAD ABOUT DOCUMENTARY FILM

True story about a fake reality or a fake story about true reality?

By Ivana Balážová

Ivana Balážová is a student from Slovakia. She studies documentary film directing at VŠMU Bratislava and is currently on exchange at AGRFT.

Short and dynamic cuts, everybody is smiling and being happy, drinking a cool drink, chewing juicy chewing gum, eating ice cream and crispy cereals or holding some new and modern thing that all TV viewers would like to have. These are commercials, not reality. Reality used to be quite different, but it also depends which reality we look at. The advertising industry portrayed life behind the iron curtain as quite shiny and colorful, but the reality in the Soviet Union 50 years ago was the opposite, on the streets in that time it seemed more grey and rough. Most of the advertised things didn’t even exist.

We can see many examples of commercials that were made in the Soviet Union in Gold Spinners (Kullaketrajad, Kiur Aarma, Hardi Volmer, 2013). We can also see this film as some sort of a commercial showing of the Soviet Union. It is a show, uncovering how the system behind the iron curtain actually worked. Behind all of these attractive scenes of a materialistic dreamland is one person. While we watch this complex and ironic ad of the Soviet Union, we see a man, watching all of this with us. This man is Peedu Ojamaa, the founder of the first film studio for commercials in the Soviet Union and the director of these advertisements. While we watch how Ojamaa watches and revises his advertisements without saying a word and while we listen to his detached voiceover about the struggle how to balance political rules and artistic desires and the public situation in that times, we cannot but draw some parallels. Soviet people watched these ads. Everybody watched them and from Ojamaa’s words and some other parts of film viewers are given an indication that people liked it. But because of the regime and the whole situation, people watched those ads and said nothing. Maybe somewhere on the streets you could sometimes hear a question: “Why can’t we get this special home sauna that we saw on TV? Where can we buy these chewing gums?” But otherwise there were no objections.

The best thing for me about this film is how you can observe two completely different worlds. The one that Peedu Ojamaa created as an order from the soviet politicians and the one that was on the other side of TV monitors. The first one was a pleasure to look at, but had these absurdly nice places, lovely music, happy faces and great fake products. That is the advertising industry, not reality, and the film sort of clarifies that the reality in the Soviet Union was completely different.

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