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May Day screening: Song of the Rivers

Image Credit: Song of the Rivers, 1954.

Listing details: Song of the Rivers film screening
When: 7pm Wed 1 and Thurs 2 May.
Where: The New Zealand Film Archive, 84 Taranaki St, Wellington
Ticket price: $8 public / $6 concession


Song of the Rivers

We celebrate May Day (International Workers’ Day) by screening the 1954 East German documentary, Das Lied Der Ströme / Song of the Rivers. The stunning film travels along six major rivers (the Volga, the Mississippi, the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon and the Yangtze), documenting international workers’ movements in these areas.

Song of the Rivers was a monumental production, shot in many countries by different film crews. The direction was a team effort, with Joop Huisken, Joris Ivens, Robert Ménégoz and Ruy Santos all contributing as directors. Dmitri Shostakovich composed the musical score, to which Berthold Brecht contributed lyrics. Songs are performed by Ernst Busch, the German star and noted communist. American actor and activist Paul Robeson also sings and provides the narration for part of the film.

The film, which unashamedly glorifies the worker and vilifies capitalism, is said to have been seen by 250 million people in communist countries.

The Song of the Rivers will screen at the Film Archive, Wellington. 7pm Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd May.


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