Filming Die Leiden des jungen Werthers © DEFA-Stiftung, Christer Köfer
Egon Günther was born in Schneeberg, Germany, on March 30, 1927. He apprenticed as a locksmith and was briefly a soldier during WWII before being captured in 1945. He was a prisoner of war in Holland before managing to escape. After WWII, he studied pedagogy, German, and philosophy at the University of Leipzig, after which he worked as a teacher and editor, while writing and publishing poems and novels.
Günther began work as a dramaturg and screenwriter at the DEFA Studios in 1958. By 1964 he was directing screenplays written by himself and his (then) wife, Helga Schütz, including Lots Weib. His films were mainly about contemporary life, but he also directed literary adaptations. With Lotte in Weimar he started a series of films about Goethe, which he only completed much later with Die Braut.
Günther was increasingly beset with political difficulties and several of his films were censored. He finally decided to leave for West Germany in 1978, after his television film Ursula gained little favor with the East German officials. In West Germany, he mainly worked in television. He returned to DEFA at the end of 1989 to make Stein and to reconstruct his film Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam, which had been banned before its final production in 1966.
Critics describe Egon Günther as an avant-gardist of East German cinema, who was known for stylistically sophisticated films that could compete with international productions. Günther also taught at the Konrad Wolf Film University Potsdam-Babelsberg and at the Film Academy in Munich. In 1999, he was awarded the German Film Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Günther, who died on August 31, 2017, was the author of many poems, novels and stories.
|2002||Lifetime Achivement Award, DEFA-Stiftung|
|1999||German Film Prize for Lifetime Achievement|
|1985||Morenga, Nominated for Golden Bear, Berlin International Film Festival|
|1975||Lotte in Weimar, Nominated for Palme d'Or, Cannes film Festival|
|1972||Crystal Globe for Der Dritte, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival|
|2001||Bronnen – Was für ein chaotisches Leben (Bronnen – A Chaotic Life, doc., TV)|
|1999||Die Braut (The Mask of Desire)|
|1999||Else – Geschichte einer leidenschaftlichen Frau (Else – Story of a Passionate Woman, TV)|
|1997||Danny und Britta (Danny and Britta)|
|1988||Heimatmuseum (Local History Museum, TV)|
|1981||Exil (Exile, TV)|
|1976||Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther)|
|1975||Lotte in Weimar (Lotte in Weimar)|
|1973||Erziehung vor Verdun (Education before Verdun, TV)|
|1972||Die Schlüssel (The Keys)|
|1971||Der Dritte (Her Third)|
|1970||Junge Frau von 1914 (Young Woman of 1914, TV)|
|1966/90||Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam (When You're Older, Dear Adam)|
|1965||Lots Weib (Lot’s Wife)|
|1964||Alaskafüchse (Alaska Foxes)|
|1961||Das Kleid (The Robe)|
|1960||Silvesterpunsch (New Year’s Eve Punch, dramaturg)|