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Disco and Atomic War

Amusing doc on how Estonians secretly watched television behind the Iron Curtain

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The Soviet state of Estonia has the good luck to be just south of Finland, from which emanated TV signals bearing forbidden Western programming. Jaak Kilmi's entertaining documentary looks back on these critical TV-centric years -- from the mid-1960s through the 1980s -- during which smaller skirmishes defined life in Tallin, Estonia's northern capital. There, residents were variously beset with crappy Finnish TV, Moscow-ordered propaganda and extra-tasty treats such as Dallas and Knight Rider. Secretive careers were built around antenna-manufacturing and TV-guide publishing. Only a couple of decades later, the fraught situation depicted here seems like a comic fever dream -- Moscow wanted Estonia to erect a giant metal net in the sea to "catch" Finnish TV -- especially since cheesy Western entertainment (or "soft propaganda") has proven so successful at dismantling rigidly controlled cultures. But, of course, the Soviets knew that, which was why this bit of the Cold War was so hot. In Estonian, Finnish and Russian, with subtitles. 7:30 p.m. nightly. Fri., Dec. 31; Sun., Jan. 2; and Tue., Jan. 4. Oaks.

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