Filming Ikarus © DEFA-Stiftung, Norbert Kuhröber
Heiner Carow was born in Rostock, Germany, on September 19, 1929. When he was 21, he applied to DEFA’s Studio for Young Talent, where he would study directing with Slatan Dudow and Gerhard Klein, among others. Carow debuted with short documentaries produced at the DEFA Studio for Popular Science Films. His last film at this studio, Martins Tagebuch, a portrait of a boy and his dreams, was awarded the 1956 Golden Dove at the Leipzig International Festival for Documentaries and Animated Films. Because of his success with Martins Tagebuch, Carow drew the attention of the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. In 1957 Carow directed his first feature film, Sheriff Teddy, a story about kids in Berlin. He later directed many feature films for children and young people, in which he shows young people in conflict with older generations and society.
Heiner Carow directed some of the most important East German DEFA productions. His 1968 semi-autobiographical film, Die Russen kommen, the story of a young boy obsessed with Hitler’s victory, set in the last days of WWII, was banned for being contaminated with modernism and for lacking an antifascist hero. The film was not released until 1987 and it was digitally restored in 2016. The Prenzlauer Berg love story of a single mother in Die Legende von Paul und Paula became an unparalleled success, and it is said to have been the longest-playing film in (East) German cinemas. In 1978, the heated debate among functionaries about whether to release Bis daß der Tod euch scheidet, a frank portrayal of a troubled marriage, stirred up so much public curiosity that it was finally released, and received high acclaim from audiences and critics. Carow is also the director of Coming Out, the only East German feature film that deals with issues surrounding homosexuality and a prejudiced society, which premiered the evening of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. The film won the Silver Bear and the Teddy Award at the 1990 Berlin International Film Festival and was invited to many prestigious international LGBT festivals.
Carow’s penchant for creating films that candidly reflected everyday life in socialism often put him in the crosshairs of East German authorities. Two of his projects which were never realized were Simplicius Simplicissimus, Franz Fühmann’s adaptation of the picaresque novel, and Paule Panke, a rock and roll adaptation of Ulrich Plenzdorf’s montage novel and theater play, Die Leiden des jungen W., about a young man who tries to escape his small middle-class environment.
After the divided Germany was reunited in 1990, Carow continued working under the conditions of a new German film market. He mainly directed TV movies and series, often collaborating with his long-time colleagues, the scriptwriters Wolfgang Kohlhaase (Begräbnis einer Gräfin) and Ulrich Plenzdorf (Vater Mutter Mörderkind).
One of the foremost directors of East Germany, Heiner Carow, who was married to film editor Evelyn Carow, died on January 31, 1997. Since 2013, the DEFA Foundation has awarded the Heiner Carow prize to selected fictional, essay, or documentary German films shown in the Panorama program of the Berlin International Film Festival.
|1990||Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival for Coming Out|
|1990||Teddy Award, Berlin International Film Festival for Coming Out|
|1990||Best Director, GDR Feature Film Festival in Berlin for Coming Out|
|1990||Critic's Prize for Film, Association of German Critics, Berlin Academy of Arts for Coming Out|
Konrad Wolf Prize of the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts for Coming Out
|1988||Best Director, GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt, for Die Russen kommen|
|1967||Heinrich Greif Prize, Class 1, for Die Reise nach Sundevit|
|1996||Fähre in den Tod (Ferry to Death, TV)|
|1995||Kanzlei Bürger (Bürger Law Office, TV series)|
|1995||Praxis Bülowbogen (The Doctor’s Office on Bülowbogen, TV series)|
|1993||Vater Mutter Mörderkind (Father Mother Murderchild, TV)|
|1991||Die Verfehlung (The Mistake)|
|1991||Begräbnis einer Gräfin (Funeral of a Countess, TV)|
|1986||So viele Träume (So Many Dreams)|
|1980||Pugowitza (Pugovitsa, script)|
|1978||Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet (Until Death Do Us Part)|
|1972||Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul und Paula)|
|1968/87||Die Russen kommen (The Russians Are Coming)|
|1965||Jeder hat seine Geschichte (Everybody Has Their Own Story, TV, short)|
|1966||Die Reise nach Sundevit (The Journey to Sundevit)|
|1963||Die Hochzeit von Länneken (The Laenneken Wedding)|
|1959||Das Leben beginnt (Life Begins)|
|1958||Sie nannten ihn Amigo (They Called Him Amigo)|
|1956||Martins Tagebuch (Martin’s Diary, short, doc.)|
|1954||Die Wette gilt (The Bet Is On, short, doc.)|
|1953||Ein Schritt weiter (One Step Further, short, doc.)|