Films Ranging from Satirical to Somber Will Be Featured at Free Four-Day Cold War Film Festival at Baylor

Oct. 27, 2011

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"Lights! Camera! Propaganda!", "Invite Your Friends -- But Don't Trust Them!" and "Iron Curtain Meets Red Carpet" are some of the attention-getting sentiments that have cropped up on posters advertising the Cold War Film Festival at Baylor University in November, a four-night event featuring four films.

The festival of films ranging from comical to somber is free and open to the public. It will be hosted by Dr. Stephen Sloan, director of the Institute for Oral History, and Dr. Julie deGraffenried, an assistant professor of history and associate director of the Slavic and Eastern European Studies Program. It stems from a new class they are teaching about the Cold War.

"The Cold War was such a major shaper of the world we live in now, and because of the age in which it played out, it appeared in pop culture," Sloan said. "Part of the Cold War was a war of ideas, of competing ideologies, and it had a huge stage on which to express itself."

But for today's university students, most of whom were born during the Clinton Administration, "there's not a resonance of the Cold War," Sloan said. "We're going to correct that."

For the Soviet Union, the attempt to provide an alternative model for developing nations around the world while remaining competitive in the arms race nearly bankrupted the empire and contributed to its eventual collapse, according to the course syllabus. For the United States, the Cold War meant dramatic military, political, cultural and economic expansion abroad as well as domestic affluence and anxiety.

The film series is timely, Sloan said, because "we just commemorated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Berlin Wall.

The movies include:

    • "One, Two, Three," starring James Cagney, from 1961, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14. This is a farce about the marriage of a rich American girl -- daughter of a Coca-Cola executive -- to a communist boy from East Berlin. It was directed by the famed Billy Wilder and viewed as one of his funniest films, Sloan said.

    • "Dr. Strangelove," from 1964, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15. This classic satire of nuclear scare was directed and co-written by Stanley Kubrick and starred Peter Sellers and George C. Scott. It is the tale of an unhinged Air Force general who orders a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet, prompting the President of the United States, his advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Royal Air Force officer to try to recall the bombers and prevent a nuclear apocalypse.

    • "Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba)," from 1964, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16. The film examines problems caused by political oppression and disparities in wealth and power. It begins in Havana in the pre-Castro era, examining difficulties faced by peasants working in sugar cane fields as well as the battle of leftist students against the police and a corrupt government.

    • "Red Dawn," from 1984, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17. The film, set in the dawn of a third world war, is set in the Midwestern United States and follows a group of teens banding together to defend their town and country from invading Soviet forces. As for Red Dawn, "it's the least intellectually stimulating of the films, but there's shooting and (actor) Patrick Swayze," Sloan said.

All films will be shown in Armstrong Browning Library's Cox Lecture Hall, 710 Speight Ave.

The series is sponsored by the department of history and the Institute for Oral History, both in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences, and by Baylor's Armstrong Browning Library.

Complimentary thematic refreshments will be served during intermissions.

For more information, call Sloan at 710-6290.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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