The Film Society of Lincoln Center Announces

 A Special Event of The 42ND New York Film Festival 


 The 42nd New York Film Festival is sponsored

by Diet Coke, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., and The New York Times


Presented in association with the Berlin International Film Festival,

the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM),

and the Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Made possible by a grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States

and additional funding from the George C. Marshall Foundation


The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that its 42nd New York Film Festival will present as a Festival Special Event Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan, 1948-53. This landmark series features 25 films made in Europe by the Marshall Plan’s Motion Picture Section and by the Documentary Film Unit of the U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS), after WWII. It is a fascinating cross-section of the more than 250 films originally produced to encourage the democratization of Germany and to hasten the reconstruction of Europe. Embodying “the largest peacetime propaganda effort directed by one country to a group of others ever seen,” according to David Ellwood, author of Rebuilding Europe, these films illustrate in surprisingly specific terms the strategy implemented by the Truman Administration for “winning the peace.” 

The Marshall Plan, as it was popularly called in recognition of its chief proponent and strategist, U.S. Secretary of State General George C. Marshall, was officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP). Over $13 billion in U.S. aid (the equivalent of about $90 billion in today’s dollars) was provided to some17 European nations, plus the disputed city-state of Trieste. By the end of 1951, in response to concerns about the perceived threat of Communism and the impact of the Korean War, the Marshall Plan’s focus shifted to European security and military issues.  The films in the 42nd New York Film Festival showcase were produced between 1948 and 1953 under the aegis of four successive chiefs of the Marshall Plan Movie Picture Section: Lothar Wolff, Stuart Schulberg, Nils Nilson, and Albert Hemsing.

Because of a 1948 law that prohibited the propagandizing of American citizens, few films in Selling Democracy have ever been seen in the United States. In 1990, Senator John Kerry introduced legislation overturning the ban, and this is the first public showcase of the films in America since then.  Against the backdrop of US efforts to democratize Iraq and Afghanistan, these historic films have particular resonance.

Selling Democracy is presented in association with the Berlin International Film Festival, the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM), and the Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, which provided archival copies of 14 Marshall Plan and OMGUS films. This New York Film Festival Special Event is made possible by a grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, to preserve six important films, and additional funding from the George C. Marshall Foundation. The first SELLING DEMOCRACY retrospective premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2004 with the support of Volkswagen. The program would not be possible without the Foundation’s Marshall Plan Filmography, created by Linda Christenson, which can be viewed at, and the U.S. National Archives where the majority of Marshall Plan films are located. 

Complete Program Descriptions and Schedule

(The series will be shown in five programs, to be screened over three days) 

PROGRAM ONE:  A New Deal for Europe. Features Me and Mr. Marshall, the very first Marshall Plan film (actually produced under the aegis of OMGUS before ERP got going); a delightful color animation, The Shoemaker and the Hatter, about the virtues of free trade; the charming Story of Koula about a boy trying to tame a giant American mule; Whitsun Holiday, a witty piece of anti-Communist propaganda that contrasts how western and eastern Europeans spend their leisure time; and Your $80 Dollars, the one film made specifically for U.S. audiences to show what their tax dollars were buying.

Monday, October 11, 2004, at 12:30pm, at Alice Tully Hall.

PROGRAM TWO:  Spotlight on Germany & Austria. Features It’s Up to You and Between West and East (both made by OMGUS), and The Marshall Plan at Work in Western Germany, City Out of Darkness, and The Invisible Link.

Thursday, October 14, at 3pm and 7:15pm at the Walter Reade Theater

Program Three: Spotlight on Italy & France. Features The Other Paris, The Home We Love, both set in France; and Aquila, The Struggle for Men’s Minds, and Town Without Water, all filmed in Italy.

Thursday, October 14, at 5pm and 9:15pm, at the Walter Reade Theater

Program Four: By Land and Sea.  Focuses on Marshall aid to The Netherlands in Island of Faith and Houen Zo (a 1952 Cannes Film Festival award-winner), the Scandinavian countries in Breakthrough and The Living Stream; the city of Trieste in Free City; and Portugal, Great Britain, Belgium, Greece in ERP in Action, No 5.

Friday, October 15, at 3pm and 7:30 pm, at the Walter Reade Theater

Program Five: Strength for the Free World: From War to European Union. Begins with the postwar misery depicted in Hunger (a controversial film that was pulled from German theaters at the time), traverses the Communist inroads that haunt The Smiths and the Robinsons, The Hour of Choice, and Without Fear, and leads ultimately to Let’s Be Childish, a vision of a united Europe with children leading the way.

Friday, October 15, at 5pm and 9:30pm, at the Water Reade Theater

Each screening at the Walter Reade will be followed by an informal Q&A session with Marshall Plan film historians.  At 6:30pm on Friday, October 15, a panel of distinguished print and television journalists will discuss the concept of ‘selling democracy” in the context of current political events, with a reception to follow in the Walter Reade Gallery.

At press time, special guests are expected to include Esther Hemsing (Albert Hemsing’s widow and collaborator on their award-winning film, Union at Work), Berlin Film Festival Director Dieter Kosslick, and Marshall Plan scholars Dr. Rainer Rother, Professor David Ellwood, Professor Volker Berghahn, Dr. Elizabeth Heffelfinger, filmographer Linda Christenson, and the Academy Films Archives’ Documentary Curator Ed Carter, as well as Craig Kennedy and Ursula Soyez, President and Program Officer, respectively, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Brian Shaw, Vice President of the George C. Marshall Foundation.

In conjunction with Selling Democracy, The German Marshall Fund of the United States is sponsoring a Marshall Plan Symposium, hosted by the Goethe-Institut on Saturday, October 16, from 2:30 to 5:00pm at 1014 Fifth Avenue (across from the Metropolitan Museum). The Symposium is presented in association with the Council for European Studies and the Institute for European Studies, both based at Columbia University. 

Distinguished European and American scholars Volker Berghahn (Columbia University), David Ellwood (University of Bologna), and Dr. Rainer Rother (Deutsches Historisches Museum) will speak about the Marshall Plan’s place in history and its relevance today. The discussion will be moderated by John K. Glenn, Director of Foreign Policy for the German Marshall Fund and author of Framing Democracy.

The Symposium is open to students, teachers, and the general public. Admission is free.

Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan, 1948-53 was conceived and co-curated by Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the late Stuart Schulberg. An accomplished movie producer in her own right, as well as founder of the Independent Feature Project and co-founder of First Run Features, she is currently President of Phobos Entertainment.  The New York Film Festival showcase is co-curated by Richard Peña, Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Associate Professor of Film at Columbia University.


Tickets will be sold at Alice Tully Hall box office starting at noon on September 12. Tickets are $15. Contact the Festival Box Office at 212/875-5050 for information.


Members of the Press Only

ONLINE PRESS OFFICE - Complete materials and hi-res images for all Film Society of Lincoln Center events, including the New York Film Festival, are available for download from our online press office on our website, Click on Password is xx9c2t.

PRESS SCREENING – There will be a press screening of Program One of the SELLING DEMOCRACY series on Monday, September 27, at noon, at the Walter Reade Theater. RSVPs are required—contact Graham Leggat or Ines Aslan (details below).

CONTACTS: Graham Leggat, 212/875-5416 or

                      Inés Aslan, 212/875-5625 or