Filming Mann gegen Mann © DEFA-Stiftung, Michael Göthe
Kurt Maetzig was born in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1911. His father owned a film duplication facility, and his mother came from a wealthy family of tea merchants from Hamburg and Denmark. During the First World War, Maetzig lived in Hamburg-Harvestehude with his grandmother. After completing secondary school, he studied chemistry, business administration and political economics in Munich, and he also studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. He completed his studies in Munich in 1935 with a degree in business and then worked for his father.
Meanwhile, in 1932, Maetzig also began a series of internships with filmmakers. In 1934, he was denied work by the Nazi Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Film Chamber) because his mother was Jewish. He nevertheless worked as a film technology and photochemistry specialist for a number of Berlin firms and eventually ran his own laboratory in Werder, near Berlin.
In 1944, Maetzig joined the underground German Communist Party in Berlin. He made some of the first films in Germany after WWII ended and was one of the members of the Filmaktiv involved in the founding of the DEFA Film Studio. He worked as a director and author, and also became DEFA’s artistic director in 1946.
Maetzig was a member of the Academy of Arts of the GDR and became the first president of the newly founded Film Academy in Potsdam-Babelsberg, where he was professor of film directing. In 1974, he became vice president of the International Federation of Film Societies (FIAF), to which he was elected lifetime honorary president in 1979.
Maetzig directed more than 20 feature films before retiring in 1975. His first feature film Ehe im Schatten, the first film that was shown in all four occupied zones of Germany, reached over 10 million people and gained worldwide acclaim.
Some of Maetzig’s work has been described as East German propaganda, especially the two-part feature film about the life of German Communist leader Ernst Thälmann. But his film Das Kaninchen bin ich, along with nearly all films in production in 1965/66, was banned by East German authorities and started a debate among artists and officials. This film earned critical praise after 1989 as one of the most important and courageous works ever filmed by DEFA. Kurt Maetzig died on August 8, 2012.
[See also: kurt-maetzig.de]
Festivals & Awards:
|1954||Peace Prize, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse|
|1954||National Prize, Class 1 for Directing for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse|
|1949||Nation Prize, Class 2 for Ehe im Schatten and Die Buntkarierten|
|1948||Porcelan Bambi for Ehe im Schatten|
|1975||Mann gegen Mann (Man against Man)|
|1972||Januskopf (Janus Face)|
|1970||Aus unserer Zeit: Der Computer sagt: nein (Our Time: The Computer Says No)|
|1967||Die Fahne von Kriwoj Rog (The Banner of Kriwoj Rog)|
|1967||Das Mädchen auf dem Brett (The Girl on the Diving Board)|
|1965/90||Das Kaninchen bin ich (The Rabbit Is Me)|
|1965||Die Fahne von Kriwoj Rog (The Banner of Kriwoj Rog)|
|1963||Preludio 11 (Prelude 11)|
|1962||An französischen Kaminen (At French Fireplaces)|
|1961||Der Schatten (The Shadow, TV)|
|1961||Der Traum des Hauptmann Loy (Captain Loy's Dream)|
|1960||Septemberliebe (September Love)|
|1960||Der schweigende Stern (Silent Star)|
|1958||Das Lied der Matrosen (The Sailors' Song, co-director)|
|1957||Vergeßt mir meine Traudel nicht (Don´t Forget My Little Traudel)|
|1957||Schlösser und Katen (Castles and Cottages)|
|1955||Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Leader of the Working Class)|
|1954||Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Son of the Working Class)|
|1952||Roman einer jungen Ehe (The Story of a Young Couple)|
|1950||Familie Benthin (The Benthin Family)|
|1950||Immer bereit (Always Ready, doc.)|
|1950||Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods)|
|1949||Der Bibermantel (The Beaver Coat)|
|1949||Die Buntkarierten (Girls in Gingham)|
|1947||Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows)|
|1946-69||Der Augenzeuge (The Eyewitness newsreel series, doc.)|
|1946||Einheit SPD-KPD (Unity SPD-KPD, doc.)|
|1946||Berlin im Aufbau (Rebuilding Berlin)|
|1946||Leipziger Messe 1946 (The 1946 Leipzig Fair)|