Celluloid Curtain Film Festival at Riverside Studios (06 – 09 May 2011)
This exciting European Festival dedicated to Spy Movies during the Cold War in Europe was organized at Riverside Studios by the Goethe Institute in collaboration with Eunic London. It presented 11 films, an exhibition, and a debate. You can read the Guardian’s review of the festival ‘Heroes of the KGB: the communist bloc’s spy films‘ and an article on Electric Sheep magazine.
Films screened included Nyama nishto po-hubavo ot loshoto vreme (There’s Nothing Finer than Bad Weather), a 1971 Bulgarian film, Skvorets i Lira (Skvorets and Lira, 1974) from the Soviet Union, Smyk (Skid, 1960) from Czechoslovakia, Streng geheim (For Eyes Only, 1961/2) from the GDR, Spotkanie ze szpiegiem (Rendezvous with a Spy, 1964) from Poland, Haber’s Photo Shop, 1963 from Hungary, and the 1961 Romanian film S-a furat o bomba (A Bomb Was Stolen).
“When the film The Spy Who Came In from the Cold arrived in cinemas in 1965, the 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 either seen 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.
‘Our Celluloid Curtain festival marked the fiftieth anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. Curated jointly by Oliver Baumgarten and Nikolaj Nikitin, it has shown eleven 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 London the films were screened from 6 to 9 May at the Riverside Studios; from 1 to 22 June 2011 the films were presented in Berlin at the Zeughauskino.
The film festival was accompanied by distinguished international panels and introductions to the films. The programme in London included also a fascinating exhibition of the original spy film posters and graphics from the period. This unique collection of art work covered films from the whole of Europe, including some rare and forgotten east bloc films.’
Claudia Amthor-Croft, Project Director / Goethe Institute
Picture: S-a furat o bomba, (A Bomb Was Stolen), Romania, 1961