(c) DEFA Film Library
Germany 66: Cinema East / West
From April 5-16, 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC screened films released in 1966 in both East and West Germany. Four DEFA films were part of this series that compared different cinematic responses to national and international events and topics.
In 1966, change was in the air in both East and West Germany. A new generation of filmmakers was breaking with commercialism in the West and party doctrine in the East by adopting a more personal approach to cinema and a more direct relationship with social reality. In the West, “Young German Film” began to gain attention at international festivals—including awards at the Berlin festival for Peter Schamoni’s No Shooting Time for Foxes, at Cannes for Volker Schlondorff’s Young Törless, and at Venice for Alexander Kluge’s Yesterday Girl. In the East, policies at DEFA, the state film studio, relaxed long enough to allow several daringly frank films to be made—including Jürgen Böttcher’s Born in '45, Herrmann Zschoche’s Carla, and Frank Beyer’s Trace of Stones—although most of them were quickly banned, and did not resurface until the thaw of the late 1980s.
Although a wall stood between them, the cinemas of East and West Germany approached significantly similar themes: the position of women in society, the state of the married couple in a changing culture, and the fate of outsiders and outcasts, as a generation born after the war grew up rejecting the conformist values of their parents. This series, organized by the Deutsche Kinematek for the 2016 edition of the Berlin Film Festival, provides an overview of that pivotal moment.