As part of Pushkin House’s Spy Season, please join us on the 21st July for a triple bill of documentaries on British spies for the USSR, introduced by the director, George Carey, and producer, Teresa Cherfas.
The Spy Who Went into the Cold: Kim Philby, Soviet Super Spy (BBC Storyville, 2013)
In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, a well-educated Englishman called Kim Philby boarded a Russian freighter in Beirut and defected to Moscow from under the nose of British Intelligence. For the best part of thirty years he had been spying for the Soviet Union, much of that time while holding senior jobs in MI6.
Fifty years on, more questions than answers still surround his defection. Had he really confessed before he went? Was his escape from justice an embarrassing mistake or part of the plan? This film, shot in Beirut, London and Moscow, sets out to find the answers, revealing the blind spots in the British ruling class that made it so vulnerable to KGB penetration.
1h 15m, in English
Masterspy of Moscow - George Blake (BBC Storyville, 2015)
George Blake was an up-and-coming British spy when he was captured by the communists during the Korean War. By the time he returned to London he had changed sides, and went on to betray most of the MI6 agents and operations in Cold War Berlin. Betrayed himself by a defector, he was sentenced to 42 years in jail, but dramatically escaped from Wormwood Scrubs five years later and fled to the Soviet Union. George Carey's film follows the strange life of this enigmatic agent, tracking down people who knew him, and ending with an unexpected encounter in the woods outside Moscow.
1h 30m, in English
Toffs, Queers and Traitors: The Extraordinary Life of Guy Burgess (BBC Storyville, 2017)
It was a scandal that shook the British establishment to its roots. In June 1951, the government was forced to admit that two Foreign Office diplomats had disappeared. One of them, Donald Maclean, had slipped through their fingers three days before he was due to be questioned for passing secrets to the Russians. The other, Guy Burgess, was a total surprise. He was a charming, clever Etonian, with powerful friends everywhere. And lovers too - at a time when homosexuality was illegal, Burgess made no secret of his sexual tastes. He turned out to be the most flamboyant of a ring of privileged Cambridge students who had secretly joined the Communists in the 1930s, disgusted by their own government's policy of appeasing Hitler.
With the help of newly declassified documents, George Carey's film shows how the most celebrated spy ring of the 20th century grew out of the class system, sexual hypocrisy and the sheer incompetence of some people who then ran Britain.
1h 25m, in English
Total: 4h 10m. There will be a 20-minute interval after the second film.
GEORGE CAREY is a film-maker and television producer whose work has appeared on all major TV channels in Britain. During his long career in television he launched Newsnight and Unreported World, edited Panorama and was executive producer of Question Time. Among his many documentary credits are several prize-winning films and a diverse range of series covering history, politics, war, science and belief. Ten years ago, he left mainstream television production to shoot and direct his own films with producer Teresa Cherfas. They have all involved either contemporary Russia or the Soviet Union, and have mostly been shown in the BBC's prestigious documentary strand Storyville
TERESA CHERFAS is a documentary film maker who specialises in Russian and Soviet history films. She was series producer and on-screen interpreter for the five-part BBC television series “Russia: a Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby”, and has been the producer on films such as “The Crimean War” and “Babitsky’s War” (for Channel 4), as well as the BBC’s four part series “Messengers from Moscow”. More recently she has produced several documentaries for BBC4’s Storyville, which include “The Spy Who Went Into the Cold”, “Masterspy of Moscow: George Blake” and “Toffs, Queers and Traitors: the Extraordinary Life of Guy Burgess”.