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Hammer & Tickle

Synopsis

George Orwell observed that under repressive political regimes, jokes are “tiny revolutions.” Ben Lewis’s Hammer & Tickle expands on that statement, showing how jokes enabled people in the Soviet Bloc to defy state authority. Bridging the gap between individuals’ lived experience and official state-issued propaganda, jokes eased the cognitive dissonance of life under communism in ways that were both culturally important and politically significant. “Jokes were an essential part of the communist experience because the monopoly of state power meant that any act of non-conformity, down to a simple turn of phrase, could be construed as a form of dissent,” Lewis explains. “By the same token, a joke about any facet of life became a joke about communism.”Official Film Website

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“There have been political and anti-authority jokes in every era, but nowhere else did political jokes cohere into an anonymous body of folk literature as they did under communism.”—Ben Lewis, Director of Hammer & Tickle

Credits

GENRE
Documentary feature
WRITER/DIRECTOR/NARRATOR
Ben Lewis
PRODUCERS
Christine Camdessus
Leah Mallen
EDITOR
Jules Cornell
TOTAL RUNNING TIME
89 minutes

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