Film Series

Since 1997, the DEFA Film Library has developed four types of film series featuring East German and related films: Thematic Series, Filmmaker’s Series, Retrospectives and GSA Film Series.

All our series are available to be booked for screenings at cultural or educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada; they also provide helpful suggestions for film groupings that may be adapted for course syllabi, film festivals and other educational and cultural events. To book part or all of one of our film series, please contact us at filmtour@german.umass.edu

Filmmakers’ Series: DEFA Film Library Filmmaker’s Series are developed on the occasion of inviting a given filmmaker to visit and often tour North America with his or her films. Such tours enable individual directors and scriptwriters to showcase their work through film screenings, speaking engagements and working with students as artists-in-residence. To see whether an upcoming Filmmaker’s Tour is currently being planned, please look under NEWS on our homepage or contact us at video@german.umass.edu

Thematic Series: DEFA Film Library Thematic Film Series group together films that present diverse, yet complementary perspectives on a specific cultural or historical topic. Some have enjoyed premieres at prestigious venues, such as the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (WENDE Flicks) or the Gene Siskel Film Center (AWARDED!). Some have enjoyed multiple festival screenings (Shadows and Sojourners). And some—such as Berlin, Divided Heaven, REEL Women in East Germany and Made in West|East Germany—include catalogues that suggest ways to mix-and-match films to meet the needs of given teachers and programmers.

Retrospectives: DEFA Film Library Retrospective Film Series are designed to give an overview of East German cinema. The first of these—The Cinema of East Germany—focused on films that were the best known of the DEFA canon. The Rebels with a Cause retrospective—which premiered at The Museum of Modern Art and was co-curated by specialists at MoMA and the Goethe Institut New York—took a fresh look at the canon on beautiful, new 35mm prints.

GSA Film Series: Since fall 2004, the DEFA Film Library has hosted a German film festival at the annual conference of the German Studies Association. These often feature new releases or the work of visiting filmmakers.

Angel Wagenstein Duo
Premiere 2017, New York Jewish Film Festival

Sreenwriter and novelist Angel Wagenstein is the link between two films screening at the upcoming NY Jewish Film Festival, January 11-24, 2017.

The Reformation through a Red Lens
Premiere 2017, UMass Amherst

In 1517, the Reformation began when Martin Luther published his 95 Theses; further radicalized by Thomas Müntzer, the serfs rose up against injustices in the German Peasants’ War. Seen as pre-communist antecedents of the GDR, these events inspired 14 DEFA films.

 

Flashback: DEFA Turns 70!
Premiere 2016

We invite you to celebrate DEFA's 70th birthday with film screenings at your institution in 2016!

2016 SCMS Reception & Screening
Premiere 2016, Goethe Zentrum Atlanta

Please join us at the Goethe Zentrum Atlanta on April 1 for a reception and screening of Egon Günther's social satire When You're Older Dear Adam. Banned in 1966/Restored in 1990: restorers worked traces of the excisions and damage of censorship into the finished print.

Germany 66: Cinema East/West
Premiere 2016, Museum of Modern Art NYC

From April 5-16, 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC screened films released in 1966 in both East and West Germany. Four DEFA films were part of this  series that compared different cinematic responses to national and international events and topics.

Life Lessons: The Films of Herrmann Zschoche
Premiere 2016, UMass Amherst

[East] German director Herrmann Zschoche’s films explore the lessons we learn in life. Often told through the experiences of young people or strong female protagonists, Zschoche made films in different genres to critically examine the heart of daily life.

13th GSA Film Series
Premiere 2016, GSA Conference San Diego

We celebrate the 70th anniversary of DEFA’s founding with two short programs as part of ARTS NIGHT at this year’s GSA conference in San Diego! They take place on Thursday evening, September 29, in Royal Palm Salon 3 at the Town & Country Convention Center.

DEFA at MoMA!
Premiere 2016, Museum of Modern Art

Heiner Carow's newly-restored banned film, The Russians Are Coming (1968/87), is having its North American premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Nov 3 and 7.

21 Restored Films
Premiere 2016

As efforts to restore classic DEFA films are in full swing at the DEFA Foun- dation in Berlin, our collection of restored titles on DCP is keeping up with the newest movie theater technology!

12th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2015, GSA conference & Goethe-Institut Washington

This year features the North American premiere of the banned film Miss Butterfly, as well as four short films on German artists who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Käthe Kollwitz: Filmic Images of a Life
Premiere 2015, Smith College

Three (East) German feature films offer cinematic snapshots of the life of Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), one of most important female artists of the 20th century, who worked as a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and was also involved in film.

Gerd Kroske: Drawing a Line
Premiere 2015, Amherst Cinema Center

Former East Germany, punk music, the Wall, jail, leaving for the West, betrayal amongst friends and worse – amongst brothers. This documentary film confronts these things on the offensive – seeing them as a balancing act.

Banned! DEFA's Forbidden Films of 1965-66
Premiere 2015

While edits and changes in the face of possible censorship were not uncommon in the almost 50 years of the GDR’s film and television industry, censorship was not always equally imminent. The notorious highpoint was the Kahlschlag of 1965-66.

Helke Misselwitz Presents!
Premiere 2014, University of Massachusetts Amherst

When the Berlin Wall fell, director Helke Misselwitz was screening her films at UMass Amherst. She returned in November, 2014, to commemorate this event 25 years later with three screenings and a gala reception!

Andreas Voigt's Leipzig Films
Premiere 2014, University of Massachusetts Amherst

In commemoration of 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the DEFA Film Library is pleased to present two films at the center of director Andreas Voigt's Leipzig series: Leipzig in the Fall and Last Year Titanic.

11th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2014, German Studies Association conference, Kansas City MO

This year we invited conference participants to explore streaming our films. Our educational streaming partner Kanopy had agreed to make five of our new releases available for conference participants to preview for 12 days.

WWI: A Cold War View
Premiere 2014, National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, Kansas City MO

Reflecting both German and communist viewpoints, East German films treating the First World War emphasize different events and aspects of the period from what American viewers are familiar with.

Seeking Transformation: The Films of Siegfried Kühn
Premiere 2014, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“The heroes of my most important films are people who want to break out.” Siegfried Kühn’s statement runs like a thread through his oeuvre, and his main characters—often women—take huge risks in their desire to transform their lives.

10th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2013, German Studies Association conference, Denver CO

The tenth GSA Film Series, entitled From Ufa to DEFA, featured two classic films made in 1947, immediately after the end of WWII: Marriage in the Shadows and Wozzeck.

Awarded! East German Films from Behind the Wall
Premiere 2013, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago IL

Eight major award-winning films from the GDR in one series, including all the East German titles ever submitted for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film!

9th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2012, German Studies Association conference, Milwaukee WI

The presentation of her film All My Girls by director Iris Gusner was the highlight of the ninth annual GSA Film Series.

REEL WOMEN in East Germany
Premiere 2012, German Studies Association conference, Milwaukee WI

REEL WOMEN in East Germany is a collection of over sixty feature and documentary films that touch on the lives and work of women in the GDR.

The Films of Iris Gusner
Premiere 2012, University of Massachsetts Amherst

One of very few women to succeed as a director at DEFA, Iris Gusner was among the first East German filmmakers to focus on the role and emancipation of women in the GDR.

8th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2011, German Studies Association conference, Louisville KY

Made in West/East Germany series premiered at the 2011 GSA conference, featuring a pair of films "women's films" made in the 1970s: The All-Round Reduced Personality (FRG, 1977, dir. Helke Sander) and The Dove on the Roof (GDR/Germany, 1973/2010, dir. Iris Gusner).

Film + Art + Jazz = Jürgen Böttcher / Strawalde
Premiere 2011, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Filmmaker and painter, Böttcher/Strawalde has turned eclectic events and materials into painterly films that are known for their striking visual style. This series features ten films on art, jazz, and Berlin.

Made in West|East Germany
Premiere 2010, German Studies Association conference, Oakland CA

The Made in West|East Germany film series draws on East German films from the DEFA Film Library and West German films from the Goethe-Institut Boston, to explore the interconnections and differences that existed between East and West Germany.

The Films of Jörg Foth
Premiere 2010, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Director Jörg Foth, an insightful analyst of German society and film history, was the featured guest of a North American Filmmaker's Tour.

7th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2010, German Studies Association conference, Oakland CA

A guest appearance by filmmaker Jörg Foth—serendipitously joined by theater artist and author Steffen Mensching—was the highlight of this year's GSA Film Series.

Wende Flicks
Premiere 2009, Los Angeles CA

9 feature and 4 documentary films made by the last generation of GDR filmmakers in the years surrounding the fall of the Wall and German unification. Organized in collaboration with The Wende Museum, L.A.

6th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2009, German Studies Association conference, Washington DC

A guest appearance by director Andreas Dresen and selections from the WENDE FLICKS series, which premiered in Los Angeles in spring 2009, were highlights of the sixth annual German Film Series.

5th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2008, German Studies Association conference, St. Paul MN

The fifth annual GSA German Film Series featured four new releases and was supplemented by a special screening of the Weimar Republic classic Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World.

The Films of Rainer Simon
Premiere 2008, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Director Rainer Simon visited 24 colleges, universities, and cultural institutions in the United States and Canada from September to November 2008.

4th Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2007, German Studies Association conference, San Diego, CA

The fourth GSA Film Series highlighted the early films of director Andreas Dresen, including: Silent Country, Train in the Distance, Far from Klein Wanzleben, The Rats Sleep at Night, and Shortcut to Istanbul.

Jurek Becker
Premiere 2007, Amherst Cinema & the Five Colleges

In 2007 the DEFA Film Library sponsored a film series commemorating the 70th birthday of the late Jurek Becker, one of the most important (East) German authors of the twentieth century. 

3rd Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2006, German Studies Association conference, Pittsburgh, PA

The third annual GSA Film Series presented selected titles from the Rebels with a Cause series, which had premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York the year before. It also paid respects to actor Erwin Geschonneck, who turned 100 years old in 2006.

2nd Annual GSA Film Series
Premiere 2005, German Studies Association conference, Milwaukee WI

The second annual German Film Series at the German Studies Association conference in Milwaukee had something for everyone.

Rebels With a Cause
Premiere 2005, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague and friend Jytte Jensen, who co-curated our 2005 MoMA film series REBELS WITH A CAUSE. We will miss Jytte and always be grateful to her for believing in our films.

The Films of Andreas Dresen
Premiere 2005, Five Colleges

Andreas Dresen, one of Germany’s most successful contemporary filmmakers, undertook a two-week tour of the northeastern United States in the fall of 2005. He screened his film Willenbrock in its US premiere at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1st GSA Film Series
Premiere 2004, German Studies Association conference, Washington DC

In 2004, we tried screening films at the annual conference of the German Studies Association for the first time. Since then, the GSA Film Series has become a key piece of the conference, which many conference participants attend on the first evening of the conference each year.

The Films of Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Premiere 2004, University of Pennsylvania

In November 2004, screenwriter and director Wolfgang Kohlhaase visited four colleges and universities in the northeastern U.S. as part of a two-week tour.

Shadows and Sojourners
Premiere 2002, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The first retrospective representing the intertwined themes of German/Jewish relations, antifascism, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust in GDR cinema.

The Films of Frank Beyer
Premiere 2002, University of Massachusetts Amherst

In the fall of 2002, director Frank Beyer presented his work at 28 different North American universities, colleges and cultural institutions as part of a two-month-long tour.

Berlin, Divided Heaven
Premiere 1999

The city of Berlin has had a history unlike any other that is told by 16 films produced in both parts of Germany.

The Cinema of East Germany: The View From North America
Premiere 1997, Smith College

In 1997 the DEFA Film Library hosted the first North American conference on the cinema of the GDR, held at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and attended by over 120 scholars from eight countries. 

Shibboleth login