GSA Film Series


Sponsored by the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst and the DEFA Foundation in Berlin.

13th GSA Film Series

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.


Also come to the UMASS RECEPTION, at the Tikki Pavilion right after the GSA Banquest on Friday, Sept 30, where we will celebrate the publication of RE-IMAGINING DEFA: East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts (eds. Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke) with our friends at Berghahn Books!


7:00 – 7:50 p.m.

Lutz Dammbeck—Against the Mainstream


(East) German painter, filmmaker, author and media artist Lutz Dammbeck debuted as an animation filmmaker with Der Mond (The Moon) in 1975. Dammbeck’s film projects made him an exception in GDR film and arts circles. By 1986, when he left the GDR for West Germany, he had directed a total of six shorts for the DEFA Studio for Animation Film. This program presents four of these films.


In parallel, Dammbeck pioneered non-camera animation techniques (e.g., in Das Luftschiff by Rainer Simon), became a core member of the East German Super-8mm underground scene and produced media collages combining elements of film, dance, painting, music and acting. His most recent film, Overgames—which explores the roots of game shows and their psychological impact on viewers—received the Goethe Institut Documentary Film Prize at DOK Leipzig in 2015.


The Moon (Der Mond)

GDR, 1975, 6', color, no dialogue

The moon happily swirls around, watching the animals enjoy themselves and dance in his light. Then all of a sudden, the moon falls out of the sky, and the greedy dragon drags him into his cave. When the nights stay dark, the animals come up with a plan…


The Tailor of Ulm (Der Schneider von Ulm)

GDR, 1979, 14', color, English subtitles

The little town of Ulm is governed and oppressed by the bishop. Nobody tries to speak up except the tailor, who believes the impossible is possible. Based on a poem by Bertolt Brecht, this is one of the first expressions of Dammbeck ’s experimental, grotesque, surrealistic style of animation.



GDR, 1981, 15', color, English subtitles

Mutants live on a hermetically sealed, devastated planet called Einmart. A huge black birdman is the Dominator, who knows how to celebrate the ‘free fall.’ Other creatures try to simulate this, but their flight radius is restricted…. Dammbeck here creates a rich visual world supported by musique concrète and masterly paraphrases Buñuel and Tarkowski.


The Flood (Die Flut)

GDR, 1986, 10', color, no dialogue

Two men sit on an island watching the sunset. When a storm gathers, they decide to build a boat. While one man is mindful of the coming danger and urges speed, the other wastes his time on decorative details. Based on a Chinese fable, with music composed and played by internationally-known jazz percussionist Günter “Baby” Sommer.



8:00 – 9:15 p.m.

Banned / Restored!


When You’re Older, Dear Adam (Wenn du gross bist, lieber Adam)

GDR, 1966/90, dir. Egon Günther, 70’, color

A social satire about a boy who finds a flashlight that makes people float when they lie. With a carefree and quick-witted blend of genres, the film reflects the influence of new wave experimentation East and West. In particular, the basic premise—and its subversive potential—drew on the acclaimed 1963 film of Czech director Vojtěch Jasný, Až přijde kocour (When the Cat Comes, or Cassandra Cat).


When You’re Older, Dear Adam was one of twelve feature films banned in 1965-66, in the midst of sweeping restrictions in the East German cultural sector following the 11th Plenum. First the screenplay was censored, then the film was canceled during production. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, director Günther and others restoring the banned films decided to work the traces of excisions and damage into the finished print, instead of erasing them. The result is an unparalleled historical document inscribed in film.

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