© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
When the DEFA Studio for Animation Film was founded in Dresden on 1 April 1955, the chief investor—the East German state—expressed one wish: eighty percent of the films made there were to specifically target children. Of the approximately 750 animated films ultimately made at the Studio between then and 1990—which included animated cartoons, puppet films, shadow plays and stop-motion animation—there were naturally also many works intended for adults, however. Experimental forms were seldom employed, as filmmakers at the Dresden Animation Studio wanted to avoid being accused of formalism, which officials understood as an overemphasis of form over content and an antithesis to socialist realism. The fundamental mission of East German animators at the Studio thus changed very little over time. Not until the last years of the GDR did they begin to get to the heart of social issues with any regularity, resulting in cheeky, aggressive and witty animations.