Europe’s Cold War in Film

When the film The Spy Who Came In from the Cold arrived in cinemas in 1965, spy film was already one of the most popular genres in Europe. By then, deep into the Cold War, the figure of the spy was a source of great fascination for people on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The secret agent reflected the political ambitions of east and west as well as their contradictions. He was seen either as a golden hero or an evil mole; as representing either the superiority of a political system or of its detested enemies. The spy film therefore crossed over easily with the political propaganda film.

EUNIC in Lithuania Celluloid Curtain festival marked the fiftieth anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Curated jointly by Oliver Baumgarten and Nikolaj Nikitin, it shows spy films made between 1960 and 1974 on both sides of the Iron Curtain. These remarkable films shed light on the popular spy genre, aimed both at entertainment and at cementing the divisions of the Cold War. In Vilnius the films were screened from 2 to 8 December 2011 in cooperation with “Kino Pavasaris” at cinemas “Skalvija”, “Pasaka” and “Multikinas”. The curator Oliver Baumgarten attended the opening of the film week.

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