Soviet Films and British Intelligence in the 1930s

James Smith

in Russia in Britain, 1880-1940

Published in print September 2013 | ISBN: 9780199660865
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191757761 | DOI:
Soviet Films and British Intelligence in the 1930s

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter, drawing on intelligence files declassified in 2006, considers the involvement of Britain’s Security Service, MI5, in monitoring the circulation of Soviet films in Britain in the 1930s, with particular reference to Kino Films. Kino was an organisation first established in Britain in 1933 as the film section of the Workers’ Theatre Movement, and distributed films ranging from the works of major Soviet directors to a variety of propagandistic news films. In 1931 MI5 assumed the lead responsibility for monitoring domestic political subversion. With the increasing circulation of communist agitational material through Britain, cultural institutions overtly sympathetic to the Soviet Union or suspected of covert links to communist organisations were subjected to MI5 surveillance. The chapter details how Kino operated as a key organization disseminating Soviet cinema through Britain in the 1930s, and how MI5 reacted to the use of cinema as a medium of pro-Soviet propaganda.

Keywords: Soviet film; MI5; Kino films; censorship

Chapter.  9106 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (19th Century)

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