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The Singing Revolution 

Dissent proves harmonious in this documentary about Estonian independence.

The small nation of Estonia, with its convenient port on the Baltic Sea, has frequently been overrun by more aggressive neighbors. But few blows struck as hard as those during World War II, when Estonia was invaded by the Soviets, then the Nazis, and then the Soviets again. James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty's documentary recounts the struggles of the Estonia under decades of Soviet occupation, a grim condition which they argue was tempered by the tiny country's deep and abiding sense of national identity, particularly its folk and music traditions. What eventually flowered in the late 20th century was a resistance movement that found its natural voice of dissent in the forbidden folk music of this song-happy nation. Such tactics proved to be curious, yet benign and effective weapons: What could the Soviet police do when tens of thousands of people in one spot sang a nostalgic paean to their homeland? Ironically, the inspirational account of little Estonia breaking free of the USSR and reclaiming its heritage may be less known to us because these remarkable events were bloodless. In this uplifting, real-life story, the ballad proves mightier than the sword. In English, and some Estonian and Russian, with subtitles. Starts Sat., July 12. Harris (AH)

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