REEL Women in East German Film
With our REEL Women in East German Film series, we highlight women’s contributions to DEFA and how their work in cinema intersected with questions of cultural and national identification, gender, race and socialism, and the politics of representation in East Germany during the global Cold War. Whether it’s the characters, the actresses, or the directors, they represent women in pursuit of life goals, personal happiness, or the belief in a better society. They are singers, professionals, workers, mothers, daughters, friends, wives, lovers, and so often they are living at the intersection of their life stations.
“A beautiful, whimsical and at times magical film about love, longing and racism.” —Goethe Institut Montreal.
After German unification: Johanna is a young mother and widow in the little town of Herzsprung, as well as one of the newly-unemployed East Germans forced to live on welfare. She eventually meets and falls in love with a Black man, who is a newcomer to the village and works in a roadside diner. Some people in Johanna’s village are unwilling to accept her new boyfriend and their relationship. Their racism and resentments in the face of economic collapse lead to a dramatic escalation of events.
“You can’t just exist in dreams, but you can’t live without [them] either.” –Lothar Warneke
The fun-loving, 26-year-old architect Franziska Linkerhand (Simone Frost) works for a famous professor. Feeling restrained by her dependence on him, she longs to take risks. After her marriage falls apart, she moves to a small town where she approaches her new life with vigor and idealism. Many of her colleagues have given in to the dictates of economic restrictions and prefabricated apartment blocks; but Franziska hangs onto her ideals and, as in her private life, is not willing to compromise. Based on Brigitte Reimann’s best-selling semi-autobiographical novel, Franziska Linkerhand.
The ‘solo’, a persistently concrete motif, turns out to be a metaphor for the search for individuality and identity. Everyone wants and needs their ‘solo’. --Klaus Wischnewski
The aspiring singer Sunny (Renate Krößner) longs to be happy and recognized as an artist. When she gets kicked out of one band, she starts over in the ‘underground’ scene of East Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. Based on a true story, this smash hit addressed the longings and frustrations of East German youth. This film is considered one of the 100 most significant German films of all time.