16

European Renaissance: East

All of the countries of Eastern Europe except for the former Soviet Union were occupied by the Nazis or collaborated with them during World War II, and those that had strong national film industries at the time, such as Czechoslovakia and Hungary, saw them subverted for the purpose of propaganda. When the war ended, these countries were "liberated" by the Soviet army and found themselves once again occupied by a foreign, totalitarian power. Gradually, but with much brutality, the Soviet government placed its own puppets at the heads of the Eastern European states, Stalinized the national governments, and forced the entire area into the Soviet bloc—a move formalized by the Warsaw Pact of 1955. Among the first acts of the new regimes was to nationalize the Eastern European film industries in order to use them, as the Nazis had, for the production of political propaganda. In Czechoslovakia and Poland, nationalization took place in conjunction with the establishment of state-supported film schools, repeating the pattern of the Soviet Union just after its revolution. The Czech film school, the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Dramatic Arts (FAMU), was founded in Prague in 1945; the Polish version, the Leon Schiller State Film School at Łódź, was established in 1948. Ultimately, each of the major Eastern European nations would have its own state-operated film school—Hungary its Academy for Dramatic and Cinematographic Art in Budapest (1947), Yugoslavia its Film Institutes in Belgrade and Zagreb (1950), Romania its Institute of Theater and Film Art (IATC, 1950) in Bucharest, and Bulgaria its Sofia Film and Television Academy (1973). * The thoroughness of the postwar nationalization meant that there would always be a close relationship between film and politics in Eastern Europe. Generally speaking, in times of oppression the Eastern European cinemas have been used for the purpose of political indoctrination; during periods of liberalization (Poland, 1954-63 and 1976-81; Czechoslovakia,

____________________
*
Two former Warsaw Pact countries are omitted from this survey. The first is Albania, a small, extremely poor Balkan nation (population three million) that withdrew from the Pact in 1968. Until recently, Albania was militantly closed to the West. The second is the German Democratic Republic (GDR; East Germany), treated in Chapter 15 with the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with which it was reunited in 1990. Like its Warsaw Pact allies, the GDR had a thriving state-run film school, the Deutsche Hochschule für Filmkunst in Potsdam, established in 1954.

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