We Are from Jazz review – zany Russian musical comedy

In this entertaining fantasy from the Soviet era, a brilliant pianist is expelled from the music academy because of his passion for decadent American jazz

Only in a Woody Allen film will you hear quite as much Dixieland jazz as this. Here is We Are from Jazz, or We Are Jazzmen, the zany jazz comedy musical from Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov, originally released in 1983, but now revived as part of the Melodia! festival of Russian musicals at London’s BFI Southbank and Ciné Lumière.

Shakhnazarov is now a rather establishment figure in Putin’s Russia as director general of the official Mosfilm studios and supporter of the party line, but his breakthrough film showed him to be a sprightly, subversive, comic talent – a tweaker of authority’s nose. His story imagines the birth of jazz in the Soviet Union, and it has the spirit of Hollywood movies such as George Roy Hill
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