From Behind the Iron Curtain: Eastern European Film Marketing Posters on Display at USC Upstate

February 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

The Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery at the University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce that a collection of movie posters from Eastern European countries has been loaned to the gallery for display Feb. 14 through May 10, 2013. They are a part of a larger movie poster collection owned by Dr. Matthew Johnston, an avid collector.

Titled “Film Art from Behind the Iron Curtain,” the exhibition features posters from Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Eastern Germany, Romania, Russia and Cuba and will be located on the second floor of the Humanities and Performing Arts Center. The movies that are featured in the posters date from post WWII to 1991.

The public is invited to Johnston’s free public lecture Thursday, Feb. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Humanities and Performing Arts Center. A reception will follow.

Western audiences may at first not recognize the movies from these posters. Pictured above is the poster from Star Wars. Below are the posters from Alien and Hitchcock’s The Birds.

“Film marketing packages produced by Western movie studios were not allowed in these Eastern European countries, so the graphic designers behind the curtain had complete leeway to design their own movie posters based on their interpretation of the movies,” said Michael Dickins, gallery manager. “The posters they designed — used to advertise and interpret the films — undergo remarkable transformations when presented to their European audiences,” he added.

“In communist countries,” explained Matthew Johnston, “the state-run movie distribution apparatus didn’t have profit foremost in their minds. Movies were a chance for people to be entertained for a few hours, and there was no marketing or advertising pressure for their graphic designers to ‘sell’ the movie, in the sense that Western movie houses felt.”

Dickins is excited to have this collection on display because the university offers both film and graphic design classes. “The posters,” he said, “are a great jumping off point for discussing both.”

For more information about the showing, contact Jane Nodine, gallery director, at (864) 503-5838 or, or Michael Dickins, gallery manager, at (864) 503-5848 or