The Soviet Film Industry

By Paul Babitsky; John Rimberg | Go to book overview

VI. Film Export and Import of the U.S.S.R.

1.

In foreign relations as well as domestic affairs the Soviet government has assiduously exploited the motion picture as both commodity and communication.

From the time when it first began to release its films abroad, the U.S.S.R. has sought, as a rule, to realize commercial and ideological returns simultaneously. To judge from the available record of exports, this policy has yielded considerable financial success at least, particularly in the United States during the thirties and early forties. Postwar strategy has sometimes subordinated immediate monetary considerations to propaganda purposes in countries regarded as amenable to Soviet influence. For instance, in 1945 the U.S.S.R. was financing the construction of movie theaters in the Middle East, India, China, and Africa through "extremely lenient long-term loans," made on condition that Soviet films should constitute at least 15 per cent of the programs in these theaters.1

Outside the commercial market, motion pictures are summoned to the aid of Soviet diplomacy when opportunity offers. Documentary films have served to support Soviet arguments in the halls of the United Nations. In 1949 a motion picture about the Pioneer movement in the U.S.S.R. was exhibited to members of the Social Commission of the Economic and Social Council at Lake Success.2 Soviet diplomatic representatives have employed military films at their disposal in a manner reminiscent of the prewar use of German motion pictures. In early 1951 it was reported that political leaders of the Middle East then in Washington had been entertained at the Embassy of the U.S.S.R. by films depicting the prowess and power of the Soviet armed forces.3

Foreign films shown publicly in the U.S.S.R. are selected

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