The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship Collection

Children marchings with Soviet flags in their hands

“Latvia: A Republic of the Soviet Union” (1968)

The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship (NCASF) film collection is a unique and rare anthology was donated to the Academy Film Archive between 1994 and 1999. The films provide a fascinating window into a country and political system which no longer exist, and give viewers a way to see the Cold War from another perspective.

The collection consists of over 1,000 16mm prints, representing about 700 titles. These films cover all aspects of Soviet life from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, including art, politics, history, literature, film, music, folk traditions, sports, science, the environment and international relations. Though ostensibly documentaries, the films have an unmistakably propagandistic slant, boasting of the Soviet Union’s achievements while downplaying or entirely ignoring any negative aspects of the subject matter.

A quick glance at some titles tells us quite a bit about this collection: “Captivated by Siberia,” “Health Resorts of the North Caucasus,” “Lenin - A Dream and Action,” “The Rights and Duties of Soviet Citizens,” “The Land of the Great October Revolution,” “The Truth of the Newspaper – Pravda,” and “Workers at the Moscow Ball Bearing Plant.” Most of the film prints retain good color, in contrast to the majority of those made in the West during the same period, and in many cases, the prints in the Academy’s National Council of American-Soviet Friendship Collection may be the best or only surviving copies of these films.

More About NCASF

The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship (NCASF) emphasized cultural interchange and education as a means of strengthening the bonds of understanding between the American and Soviet people. Founded in 1941 as the National Council of Soviet Relations, it was composed largely of professionals who were sympathetic to socialism and believed that the USSR and the United States should join together to fight their common enemy, fascism. The Council felt that its most important project was to promote cultural exchange at the local level. Beginning in the late 1940s, the Council arranged for American students, workers and professionals to participate in individual and group tours to the Soviet Union.

Beginning around 1970, the Council arranged several “Goodwill Delegations” in which small groups of Russians would visit one of the NCASF's local affiliates. The Council issued numerous pamphlets and bibliographies about life in the Soviet Union and about American-Soviet relations. It initiated widespread distribution of Soviet films and documentaries to their local affiliates and to schools. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the NCASF ceased operations.

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