Amherst Cinema & the Five Colleges
In 2007 the DEFA Film Library sponsored a film series commemorating the 70th birthday of the late Jurek Becker, one of the most important (East) German authors of the twentieth century. Born in Poland in 1937, he lived in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, Poland as a child and survived the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps.
Backer is most famous for his 1969 novel Jacob the Liar, but has also written numerous other novels, short stories and scripts for television and cinema productions, many of which focus on explorations of Jewish identity.
In addition to the screen version of Jacob the Liar, for which Becker wrote the script, the 2010 tour showcased three film adaptations of Becker’s literary work. Frank Beyer’s While All Germans Sleep is based on Becker's personal memories and his 1980 short story “Die Mauer” (tran. The Wall). Andreas Dresen’s film Shortcut to Istanbul is an adaption of Becker’s short story “Romeo,” also published in 1980. Finally, Jerzy Kavalerowicz’s Bronstein’s Children is based on Becker’s 1987 novel by the same name.
We were honored to have Becker’s widow, Christine, introduce and discuss the films, as well as give readings from her husband’s works. Since his death in 1997, she has edited and published 'Ihr Unvergleichlichen!' (2004), a collection of her husband's letters, followed by Mein Vater, die Deutschen und ich: Aufsätze, Vorträge, Interviews (2007), a collection of his essays, lectures and interviews.