During the Cold War, international film festivals proliferated on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The United States and the Soviet Union recognized these festivals as important venues for “cinematic diplomacy” and the pursuit of broader foreign policy goals. This article explores how the U.S. government, together with the U.S. motion picture industry, made use of its participation in the Moscow and Karlovy Vary International Film Festivals in the 1950s and 1960s. It confirms many of the findings of earlier studies of Cold War cultural diplomacy but also expands our historical understanding of this phenomenon. Specifically, it reveals the extent of cooperation and conflict—as well as an interchangeability of roles—among public officials in Washington and private citizens in Hollywood, with implications for both the formulation at home and reception abroad of U.S. cinematic diplomacy.

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