Annenberg / Area Studies / Collection News / Penn Libraries / Van Pelt

Socialism in Film


Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda is a collection of films from the communist world, which spans from the Russian Revolution to the end of the Cold War. There are documentary films, feature narrative films, as well as newsreels. This collection provides a view into the experience of filmmakers behind the Iron Curtain and in the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cuba, East Germany, and other countries in Eastern Europe, revealing how these societies perceived themselves and the rest of the world.

There are works in this collection that document Soviet reactions to President Reagan’s Star Wars defense program. A selection of films from Vietnam show how the conflict with the U.S. was portrayed for a communist audience. Soviet space films and the training of cosmonauts feature in documentaries, such as Attention, Weightlessness. Although most of the films are from the Soviet Union, there are films from East Germany, China, and Cuba that celebrate what at the time represented political triumphs for these societies in addition to explorations of cultural movements and programming.

The British Film Institute is responsible for making these films available through conservation and digitization projects, transferring from the original film reels, and this is the largest film collection of its kind known in Western Europe.

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