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Russia in Britain, 1880-1940From Melodrama to Modernism$
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Rebecca Beasley and Philip Ross Bullock

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199660865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660865.001.0001

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Soviet Films and British Intelligence in the 1930s

Soviet Films and British Intelligence in the 1930s

The Case of Kino Films and MI5

(p.241) 13 Soviet Films and British Intelligence in the 1930s
Russia in Britain, 1880-1940

James Smith

Oxford University Press

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

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