GSA Film Series


This festival is supported by the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst and the DEFA Foundation and ICESTORM Media GmbH in Berlin.

Authority & Alterity in East Germany

Political Experiments, Rebel Youth & Civil Unrest

The 2021 GSA Film Festival, based on films from our recent Summer Film Institute, explored the topic of Authority & Alterity in East Germany. The festival displays the wide range of different lifestyles and subcultures, environmental issues and rebellion that existed in the former GDR. The films and 3 Director's Talks show how filmmakers have addressed state values and proscriptions and portrayed differences among East Germans.


Two films anchor the topic in complementary views of how the East GErman state framed its values in its first decades: the 1952 documentary Blue Bandanas in the Summer Wind and the 1962 feature film The Baldheaded Band. Growing questions about the role and experience of women and People of Color in the GDR are depicted in The Dove on the Roof and Isabel on the Stairs, while the growth of surveillance is glimpsed in the short Stasi training film Operation Auditor (1984).


Many of the festival films focus on the increasingly complex political issues and social milieux of the 1980s. Experimental techniques mark Rainer Simon's The Airship, a tale of creativity in a political world. Annekatrin Hendel's 2019 documentary Beauty & Decay takes a restrospective look at Berlin's punk artists' scene. The topic of environmentalism in the GDR crosses genres, with a series of animation films, the 1983 documentary Memory of a Landscape and Juorg Foth's youth film Biology! The role of young people in the peaceful revolution of 1989 is thematized in The Mistake, while 3 documentaries explore different youth subcultures: Yell Once a Week, And Fridays at the Green Hell and Roland Steiner's groundbreaking documentary Our Children.


In addition to these 17 films, this year's festival also features recorded discussions with three of the directors and video introductions to six of the festival films.


PDF icon Downloadable Festival Flyer.pdf

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