This blog was written by industry placement student, Carmen Poon.

Snapshots of the past, documented by films. From the birth of Karl Marx through to the Russian Revolutions and into the 1980s, explore the communist world through the eyes of socialist film makers.

State Library Victoria members can access hundreds of databases from home (if your home is in Victoria). That’s millions of articles, magazines, archives, ebooks, videos, songs, audiobooks and more, available through the catalogue anytime. We’re taking a closer look at new and/or interesting databases as well as hidden gems from our collections. Read on for top picks and tips from Librarians.

Not a member yet? Sign up online first and reward your curiosity.

Today we are going to look at Socialism on Film: The Cold War and international propaganda, a database that features a collection of documentaries, newsreels and features produced primarily in the communist world. Sourced and housed in the BFI (British Film Institute) National Archive, this database catalogues over 2000 film titles coupled with different ways of exploring the collection via chronological order, geographically or though themes from Arts and Culture, Politics and Society to Nuclear War and Revolutions.

Socialism on Film database homepage banner

What makes this database so great?

The database is a great way for history (and film) buffs to learn about early 20th century history and even cultural and social norms in these countries during communist periods that happened before, during and after the World Wars through the eyes of socialist film makers.

For navigation, play around with the chronology timeline and interactive maps for films specific to a time period or location. The site also offers different themes with sub-genres (and introductions!) to topics related for more insight.

Chronology feature

The chronology tab is a tool that displays a timeline from as early as 1818 to 1991, with short descriptions of significant events dotted throughout. Some links to films on significant events like the First World War and different protest and revolution are quick ways to find films.

Another way to navigate the vast collection is through the interactive Map, which allows you to browse and locate films based on places of interest. By zooming in on the map, you’ll be able to find films featuring or related to individual cities, places, natural features and regions.

Map feature

A hidden treasure within the database are themed modules that categorise the films based on different popular themes. The modules are organised by sub-categories that also provides a short introduction into the different themes available. This can be found at the bottom of the Nature and Scope page in the Introduction tab.


One of the highlights are the essays written by experts of the fields with references specifically for Socialism on Films that offers additional context and background information to specific themes.

Critical essays collection
Explore banner

Another hidden treasure in the database are video interviews featuring academics discussing backstories of some of the films in the collection. Answering some of the most commonly asked questions regarding war and propaganda, these interviews are beneficial to researchers and students wanting a quick insight to the collection.

We hope you enjoy exploring Socialism on Film: The Cold War and international propaganda.

We always welcome your recommendations for database trialslet us know what you’d like to see.

Have a research query or questions on how to use our online collections? Ask a Librarian.

Image credits: All images taken from Socialism on Film: The Cold War and international propaganda

More to explore

Check out our latest databases on trial, and see a full list of all new and trial databases, by visiting our A-Z Databases page.

See our fashion research guide to explore the wide-ranging collections of State Library Victoria holds – books, pictures, magazines, newspapers, online resources – on many aspects of fashion.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *