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Welcome to the World of Mr Bongo

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Welcome to Mr Bongo. Essential World Cinema & Music. Since 1989.

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Arsenal (1929) - Alexander Dovzhenko Play

Soldiers return to Ukraine to find their homeland teeming with strife and dissension; gripped in a conflict between nationalist forces and communists. One faction of soldiers, led by Timosh (Semyon Svashenko) supports the communists and takes command of a munitions factory at Kiev, converting the weapons arsenal into a fortress. Still reeling from the trauma of war, Timosh and his comrades engage in a violent crusade that soon spreads across the Ukraine. A country of farms and villages gives way to killing fields. Modern warfare, with its guns, bombs and trenches scars a landscape rich in hundred years' worth of tradition.

A "white hot war film" in Jonathan Rosenbaum's words, Arsenal is placed alongside Battleship Potemkin as the great revolutionary masterpiece of Soviet cinema. Its frank depiction of violence as well as its fantastic lyrical imagery established Dovzhenko as the least ideological and most experimental film-maker of his age. The reach of its influence stretches from the works of Sergei Parajanov to Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York.

Represents the summit of Soviet cinema and remains one of the most poetic and visually beautiful of all Russian films -- Chicago Tribune

This ambitious film has evoked comparisons with Picasso's Guernica for its angry, compassionate, complex depiction of war and is full of unforgettable images -- The Guardian

Rio Breaks (2009) - Justin Mitchell & Vince Medeiros Play

Rio Breaks (2009) - Justin Mitchell & Vince Medeiros. Available from http://mrbongo.com/products/rio-breaks-2009

Surfing at Rio de Janeiro's Arpoador Beach is a way of life with its own community and specific rituals, such as showing young surfers Fabio and Naama, the secret breaking points on the seafront. The surfers, trainers and the children, all come from the hills of Rio in shantytowns called favelas. In a city which bears it class divide on its very topography, the beach serves as an authentic melting point where people across class and age barriers can meet and gather. It provides the closest normal life Fabio and Naama can share. Fabio, having lost his father to the gang war which terrorizes the favelas, finds succor through the help of his friends at the Arpoador Beach Surfing Club.

Based on a 2004 article by Vince Medeiros for Surfer's Path magazine, Rio Breaks eschews the conventional sports documentary narrative. It places surfing in relation to what it means to people in their daily life. Working as his own cinematographer, director Justin Mitchell makes use of digital video to intimately convey the society and world of two close childhood friends bonded by their love for surfing, their desire for escape and search for a better world.

Gentle, touching and beautifully captured, this is the best surfing documentary since Riding Giants -- Total Film

A poignant study of the Rio kids who see breaking waves as the only escape from a short life of crime with a favela drug gang -- Empire

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Zvenigora (1928) - Directed by Alexander Dovzhenko Play

Zvenigora (1928) - Directed by Alexander Dovzhenko. Available from http://mrbongo.com/products/zvenigora-1928

For centuries invaders have coveted the treasures of Ukraine. And for centuries they have been guarded by Grandfather (Nikolai Nademsky - Earth). This mysterious treasure remains hidden at Mount Zvenigora eluding the often violent search conducted by Poles, Cossacks and Germans in the course of centuries. In the turbulent years of the twentieth century, the treasure is sought by his descendants in the hope of recovering a past in danger of being lost. A "cinematographic poem", Zvenigora moves from past to present, combining reality with fantasy. It conveys the spirit of Ukrainian history, its transition from a rural, agricultural society to the modern world of industrialization and its discontents.

Zvenigora was immediately recognized as a masterpiece by Sergei Eisenstein and V. I. Pudovkin. The most sensual and poetic of Soviet masters, Alexander Dovzhenko's unconventional vision and experimental style remained rooted in his love for his native Ukraine, its culture and its people. Zvenigora, his first major film, is his most joyous work.

This is intellectually Marxist, and yet montage is an incredibly exciting form of filmmaking. Now used by advertisers and Hollywood blockbusters, in the hands of Soviet filmmakers it was a revolutionary cinematic experience -- Socialist Review

As the lights went on, we felt that we had just witnessed a memorable event in the development of cinema -- Sergei Eisenstein

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