© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
During the 1980s, many artists opted to leave East Germany in the wake of the expulsion of the critical singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann and their resulting loss of hope in a better future for creative work in the GDR; this phenomenon is touched upon, for example, in Cornelia Klauss’ 1997 documentary The Subversive Camera. Those who remained nevertheless created exceptional films, such as the box-office hit All My Girls, the campy Bailing Out, and the beautifully poetic The Women and the Stranger. Established and young directors alike addressed controversial topics (The Architects, Coming Out, Your Unknown Brother), as well as comic relief (Ready for Life, Ete and Ali). Starting in the early 1980s, a new group of directors started lobbying for an autonomous, alternative studio within DEFA. By the time their demands were met, however, it was too late: the Wall was about to fall, and the GDR and DEFA would soon no longer exist. Despite such upheaval, this group succeeded in producing a handful of films (Latest from the Da-Da-R, Herzsprung, The Land beyond the Rainbow, Miraculi) that reveal a critical edge not permitted to prior generations.