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 and studied directing with Slatan Dudow and Gerhard Klein, among others.
Carow debuted with short documentaries made 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 Golden Dove at the Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animated Films in 1956. This success drew Carow to the attention of the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. In 1957, he directed his first feature film there, Sheriff Teddy, a story about kids in Berlin. He later directed many feature films for children and young people, which often focused on young people in conflict with older generations and society.
Carow directed some of East Germany’s most important feature films. 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, and was not released until 1987. Die Legende von Paul und Paula, the Prenzlauer Berg love story of a single mother, became an unparalleled success and is still an extremly popular cult movie. 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 the film was finally released and highly acclaimed by audiences and critics. Carow also directed Coming Out, the only East German feature film dealing with being gay in a prejudiced society; the film premiered the evening the Berlin Wall opened on November 9, 1989, later winning the Silver Bear and Teddy Award at the 1990 Berlin International Film Festival. It screened at many prestigious international LGBTQ festivals, including in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and St. Petersburg.
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 were never realized: Simplicius Simplicissimus, an adaptation of Franz Fühmann’s picaresque novel; and Paule Panke, an adaptation of the 1982 rock musical by the East German cult rock bank Pankow about a day in the life of a young apprentice and his experiences in a claustrophobic country.
After Germany was united in 1990, Carow continued working, mainly directing 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 German fictional, essay, or documentary films shown in the Panorama program of the Berlin International Film Festival.
Festivals & Awards:
|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)|
|1992||Verfehlung (The Mistake)|
|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)|
|1965||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.)|