The WENDE FLICKS premiere in Los Angeles was organized by the DEFA Film Library in collaboration with the Wende Museum, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Library, the German Consulate General in Los Angeles, LACMA, Hammer Museum, Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, and Arcadia. Support for the film series was provided by the DEFA-Stiftung, the German Information Center USA, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, ICESTORM International, ANTAEUS Film, defa-spektrum, Kinowelt International, Medien Bildungsgesellschaft Babelsberg, PROGRESS Film-Verleih, VSI HD media services, LVT Laser Subtitling, zenon design and durchblickreisen.
Last Films from East Germany
Los Angeles CA
WENDE FLICKS: Last Films from East Germany commemorates the great turning point—the Wende—that took place in Germany in 1989. It showcases movies made by East German filmmakers from 1988 to 1994, many of which were forgotten in the midst of social change and never subtitled or screened outside of Germany. Here, the filmmakers depict radical change and the disintegration of the East Bloc with tools they acquired from a long and illustrious filmmaking tradition and professional training at the East German Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg. According to Ian Birnie, director of the film department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “The resulting range of cinematographic style and vocabulary is breathtaking.”
Most of the WENDE FLICKS titles were made by the last generation of East German filmmakers, many of whom had not been allowed to make their own films before. Their repressed talents exploded in films, such as: Herwig Kipping’s radical critique of Stalinism in East Germany, The Land beyond the Rainbow (1991); Jörg Foth’s satirical performance film, Latest from the Da-Da-R (1990), featuring cabaret artists Stephen Mensching and Hans-Eckardt Wenzel; Ulrich Weiβ’ surreal look at East Germany society, Miraculi (1991); and Helke Misselwitz’ story of love and racism, Herzsprung (1992). Silent Country (1992), the debut film of Andreas Dresen—one of today’s best-known German directors—looks at the Wende with a tragicomedic eye. Celebrated scriptwriter Stefan Kolditz and director Peter Welz address the post-Wall predicament of eastern Germany in the comic adventure, Burning Life (1994). And director Heiner Carow, who supported many young East German filmmakers in the 1980s, is represented with his East-West love story, The Mistake (1991).
The documentaries in the series depict a world from the punk and glam rock music scene in East Germany in 1988 (Dieter Schumann’s whisper & SHOUT), to the Leipzig demonstrations of fall 1989 (Gerd Kroske and Andreas Voigt’s Leipzig in the Fall), to the ensuing dismantling of the Berlin Wall and a country’s way of life (Jürgen Böttcher’s The Wall, 1989/90, and Eduard Schreiber’s Eastern Landscape, 1991). Certain feature films revisit flashpoints of East Bloc history, such as the Prague spring of 1968 (Roland Gräf’s The Tango Player, 1991). Others—such as Peter Kahane’s The Architects (1990) and Helmut Dziuba’s Jana and Jan (1991)—assess East German society, even as it was slipping away.
The series premiere took place between February 28 and March 12, 2009, in Los Angeles. The honorary host of the series was Academy-Award nominee and former DEFA star Armin Mueller-Stahl. It featured film presentations and lectures by director Helke Misselwitz, documentary filmmaker Andreas Voigt, scriptwriter Stefan Kolditz, and composer Stefan Carow. Following the premiere, the series toured a number of North American educational and cultural institutions.
All the films in the WENDE Flicks series have been released for sale on DVD, with the exception of Peter Welz’s Burning Life, for which the music rights have expired.
Praise for the WENDE Flicks series:
“The superb East German filmmaking left LA audiences [at the series premiere] surprised and impressed by its sophisticated and intelligent storytelling.”
— Cristina Cuevas-Wolf, Education and Public Programming Los Angeles County Museum of Art
"You had such a lovely crew, and your collaborators were also delightful. Really a class act, all in all!"
— Robin Menken, film journalist