A propaganda film is a film, often a documentary, produced for the express purpose of propaganda: convincing the viewer of a certain political point. However, the propaganda is not limited to non-fiction films. Many of the dramatic war films in the early 1940s in the United States were designed to create consensus at the expense of "the enemy." In fact, one of the conventions of the genre that developed during the period was that of a cross-section of the United States which comes together as a crack unit for the good of the country. Arguably one of the earliest propaganda films is The Birth of a Nation, filmed in 1915.
In the years following the October Revolution of 1917, the Soviet government sponsored the Russian film industry with the purpose of making propaganda films. The development of Russian cinema in the 1920s by such filmmakers as Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein saw considerable progress in the use of the motion picture as a propaganda tool, yet it also served to develop the art of moviemaking. Eisenstein's films, in particular The Battleship Potemkin, are seen as masterworks of the cinema, even as they glorify Eisenstein's Communist ideals.
The 1930s and 1940s, which saw the rise of totalitarian states and the Second World War, are arguably the "Golden Age of Propaganda". During this time Leni Riefenstahl, a filmmaker working in Nazi Germany, created what is arguably the greatest propaganda movie of all time: Triumph of the Will, a film commissioned by Hitler to chronicle the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremburg. Despite the controversial subject, the film is still recognized today as one of the most powerful films in history, with revolutionary approaches in both music and cinematography.
In the United States during World War II, filmmaker Frank Capra was called to create films to support the war effort. The result, a seven-part series entitled Why We Fight, is considered another highlight of the propaganda film genre. Other propaganda movies, such as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and especially Casablanca, have become so well-regarded that they are no longer considered propaganda films. Recently popular films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine have revitized the genre in the United States (although these, unlike most propaganda films, were not supported by government).
Other noted propaganda films:
For more discussion of propaganda and some examples of it in short films from the United States, see the 10-volume CD-ROM collection Our Secret Century. And for a satirical subversion of the United States military's 1960s propaganda regarding the safety of radioactive materials, see The Atomic Cafe.
- Prelinger Archives: from the Internet Archive, collection of Cold War-era American ephemeral films of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s (many of which can be classified as propaganda)
- Propagandacritic Video Gallery
"Propaganda Films"  was also the name of a production company created in the early 1980s which focused primarily on music videos, although they also produced many commercials and a few feature films through the years. It was forced to close down in part due to the economic crisis which followed the September 11, 2001 attacks.