Soviet Film Archive

International Historic Films announces an exciting new series, drawn from a cache of recently recovered Soviet-era films. These movies -- documentaries, feature films and shorts originally produced for domestic audiences -- provide a fascinating look into the theory and practice of Soviet communism, showing us the workings of the official “Soviet mind” as well as the daily lives of its peoples. Also included are many Soviet films made expressly for international audiences in a bid to win “hearts and minds” during the twilight conflicts of the Cold War.

“Film,” V.I. Lenin famously said, “is for us the most important of the arts.” Certainly no medium was more lavishly supported during the Soviet era. The result was a movie industry that turned out a remarkable variety of product for domestic and international audiences. Many of these films were earmarked for world distribution through the network of pro-Soviet Friendship Societies found in many countries, and it is from these sources that IHF has assembled this series. Most films are quite rare, produced in small quantities, with only a few prints struck in English, French or other language versions. They range widely across the Soviet period, starting with the Stalinist 1930s and extending into the Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev years. And they place an unmistakably Soviet stamp upon a wide multitude of topics, from Soviet history to current-day socialist construction, from the life of youth under socialism to the exploits of cosmonauts in space. Many aim to celebrate the diversity of the Soviet peoples, offering extensive looks at the culture, landscapes and folklore of Ukraine, Lithuania and other republics. Others, including several children’s films and cartoons, provide insight into the experience of children under the Soviet experiment. Rarely screened feature films from the postwar era combine socialist themes with arch melodrama, while somber World War II documentaries testify to that savage conflict’s special place in Soviet public memory.

The recovery of these films marks a great opportunity, for students of film and Soviet history alike, to explore more than fifty years of movie production from what was, until not so long ago, the world’s other superpower. In its variety, breadth and textured documentation of Soviet life, there is nothing else like it.
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