Forty-one percent of the foreign films reviewed by the Justice Department from 1980 to 1982 were classified as political propaganda, according to the General Accounting Office.

The GAO was w0139 ----- r a BC-06/22/83-FILMS 06-22 0001 Justice Classified 11 Foreign Films As Propaganda

Forty-one percent of the foreign films reviewed by the Justice Department from 1980 to 1982 were classified as political propaganda, according to the General Accounting Office.

The GAO was asked to study the department's Registration Unit in the wake of a controversy over its classifying as propaganda three Canadian films distributed in the United States, two on acid rain and one with an anti-nuclear-war message.

From 1980 to 1982 the office identified 38 films that might warrant a disclaimer. Of those, Justice said 27 films were reviewed. Six were requested but never submitted. Two were classified in advance by the foreign agents that distributed them. Two were withdrawn and not distributed. And the status of the remaining one could not be determined.

Almost half of the films it reviewed were found to be political propaganda, as defined by the Foreign Agents Registration Act: written and visual communication designed to influence public opinion on the foreign or domestic policies of the U.S. government.

The GAO said that the review is performed by three paralegals, who are instructed not to speculate concerning the motive or bias of those producing the films. If a film cannot be classified by the paralegals, it is reviewed by one of the unit's attorneys.

A film classified as propaganda cannot be distributed without a disclaimer stating that the views expressed in it are those of the distributor and that registration does not indicate the approval of the U.S. government. The disclaimer does not describe the film as "propaganda."

The 11 films that were judged to be propaganda, along with a description when provided by Justice or its distributor:

* "Jerusalem . . . Jerusalem." Distributed by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the film details 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history, including its reunification in 1967.

* "Berlin Means Business . . . and More." Produced by the Berlin Economic Development Corp., the film details the economic importance of that city.

* "A Conversation with Golda Meir." The film, submitted by the Consulate General of Israel, is described as a "unique opportunity to see and hear one of the most important world leaders of the 20th century." In addition, it "illuminates through Mrs. Meir's discussion, Israel's desire for a lasting peace."

* "Crisis in the Rain." A documentary by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the film attempts to enlist public support for the battle against acid rain in Ontario and the United States.

* "Acid from Heaven." Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the movie provides a case study of a person whose income was cut off because of acid rain. The film encourages viewers to contact political leaders about acid rain.

* "Acid Rain: Requiem or Recovery." Another documentary on acid rain by the Canadian film board.

* "If You Love This Planet." Also by the Canadian film board, the film chronicles a lecture by Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear freeze advocate.

* "The Children of Palestine." The foreign distributor listed on the film was the Palestine Liberation Organization.

* "Libya Today." Distributed by the Libyan Mission to the United Nations, the film is an interview with Ahmed Shahatti, special envoy of the General People's Congress of Libya.

* "H.R.H. Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan." An interview with the crown prince, the film was distributed by the Ministry of Information of Jordan.

* "Thailand." The film is an interview with Thailand's permanent representative to the United Nations.