Disco and Atomic War

If you ever doubted that David Hasselhoff was the ’80s embodiment of everything good and decent about America, this strange little Estonian documentary may convince you otherwise. Growing up in Tallinn, director Jaak Kilmi recalls his Knight Rider- and Dallas-infatuated childhood and the Soviet efforts to block such pernicious TV programming being broadcast from Finland. Young Jaak even made laborious, handwritten summaries of Dallas for a cousin who lived outside the samizdat zone. Along with talking heads who explain covert CIA support, Kilmi and his kin cheerfully recount their love for our forbidden trash. Vintage propaganda and TV clips from all sides of the conflict are hilarious: Communists warn of “the Western dance craze,” while Finnish supermarket ads display luscious veal cutlets that Estonians lusted after like pornography. (On which subject, the 1987 broadcast of Emmanuelle was effectively a national holiday.) Disco provides a charming little slice of Cold War history, when illegal TV antennas and smuggled VHS tapes were the height of modern technology. (See siff.net for other screenings on June 2 and 9.) BRIAN MILLER

Thu., June 3, 7 p.m.; Mon., June 7; Wed., June 9, 2010

 
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