Cold War Film Festival combines Iron Curtain, red carpet

By Claire Cameron

Lights, camera, propaganda.

This is the theme for the Cold War Film Festival, which will be presented by the history department Monday through Thursday.

The festival is an event featuring four days of movies from either the Cold War era or movies that represent it. The films will be shown in the Armstrong Browning Library Cox Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to everyone.

“Because the Cold War lasted so long, there are a lot of cinematic interpretations of the Cold War. It will be very informative and entertaining,” said Dr. Stephen Sloan, associate professor of history and director of the Institute for Oral History.

The Cold War was a stalemate between Russia and the U.S. that lasted for over two decades.

After World War II, the U.S. was wary of Russian communism spreading throughout Europe, and Russia was suspicious of U.S. motives. Both countries had been superpowers during WWII and both had nuclear weapons.

Sloan will co-host the event with Dr. Julie deGraffenried, associate director of Slavic and East European Studies.

Sloan said every other year he and deGraffenried co-teach a class about the Cold War, where Sloan focuses on the U.S. side, and deGraffenried focuses on the Russian side of the conflict.

“The class is interesting because it gives two distinct views on one topic, and the film festival is a product of the class,” Sloan said.

Sloan said he began the film festival back in 2011 when he first began co-teaching the class and wanted it to be a fun event.

The film festival is held every other year and next week will be the second time the department has hosted the event.

There will be four films this fall, two American films and two Russian films.

“Before each film start Dr. deGraffenried or I will give a short introduction about the film and its context to really set the mood,” Sloan said.

Thematic snacks to go with the films will also be available at the event.

Baylor alumnus Kody Jackson went to the festival last year, and said the snacks were his favorite part.

“For each of the movies they gave us snacks that related to whatever we were watching,” Jackson said. “For a movie about the nuclear holocaust we had Atomic Fireballs and sour warheads; for a movie about Cuba we had fruit and a piece of sugarcane.”

Sloan said he thinks the film festival will be a big hit this year. “We picked films that capture the tone and are really representative of the Cold War,” he said. “It will give people who come a really good insight into that time period and it will also be entertaining.”

Jackson said he really enjoyed being able to get a glimpse of what life was like back in that era.

“Last year we watched a film about the Cuba that was full of Soviet propaganda and stereotypes about the U.S. that to us now seem completely ridiculous. It was a great example of the effort that the U.S.S.R. went through to discredit the U.S.,” Jackson said.

Jackson said more students should attend the festival.

“It’s a great opportunity to relax, enjoy some free snacks and watch some wonderful movies,” Jackson said. “Best of all, it doesn’t feel like learning, but you’ll come away knowing just a little bit more about the cold war.”