Thematic Series


Series curated by Hiltrud Schulz, DEFA Film Library, and supported by the DEFA Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Chicago, the Spertus Institute, the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and PROGRESS Film-Verleih.

Awarded! East German Films from Behind the Wall

Premiere 2013
Gene Siskel Film Center
Chicago IL


Awarded! East German Films from Behind the Wall gathers major award-winning films from the GDR into one series for the first time. It features all the East German movies ever submitted for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as films that won awards at other prestigious international film festivals during the Cold War.


Of the five East German films submitted for an Academy Award—Her Third, Jacob the Liar, The Fiancée, Turning Point and Mama, I’m Alive—only Frank Beyer’s 1974 film, Jacob the Liar, was ever nominated. Her Third won an award in Venice and The Fiancée in Sydney, while Coming Out and Solo Sunny won awards in West Berlin.


The premiere of Awarded! in Chicago was particularly exciting, because Solo Sunny, The Fiancée and Fallada–The Last Chapter were returning to the windy city nearly thirty years after having been featured at Chicago’s own International Film Festival in the 1980s!


The premiere of the series was complemented by screenings from the Shadows & Sojourners film series at Chicago's Spertus Center for Jewish Learning and Culture and at the Goethe-Institut Chicago. Shadows and Sojourners: Images of Jews and Antifascism in East German Film features ten titles, including more internationally awarded films from behind the Iron Curtain: Stars (Cannes Film Festival, Special Grand Jury Prize, 1959), Professor Mamlock (New Delhi Film Festival, Silver Lotus, 1961) and Naked among Wolves (Cineparade Melbourne, 1965)­.


Accompanying the film screenings were the Shadows & Sojourners photo exhibit and "In Conversation"—a discussion between Ralf Schenk (Chair, DEFA Foundation) and BArton Byg (Founding Director, DEFA Film Library) on "Flashbacks: East German Films on Cold War Screens."

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