Summer Film Institute

Authority and Alterity in East German Movies

2021 Summer Film Institute

Authority and Alterity in East German Movies: Political Experiments, Rebel Youth and Civil Unrest   


The Summer Film Institute will take place online on June 13-20, 2021. Stay tuned for details!


Applicants accepted for the postponed 2020 Institute need not re-apply. The deadline for new applicants is March 1, 2021. For application guidelines, please contact Mariana Ivanova:


This weeklong interdisciplinary inquiry will focus on representations of political experiments, "whistleblowers," youth rebellion and state authority—and of their complex interplay—while remaining mindful of a historical context marked by political changes and a state that attempted to both undermine and re-appropriate reform impulses. Screenings, readings and workshop discussions will explore differences between dissent and alterity as socio-political manifestations, as well as how the example of the GDR can function as a springboard for discussions of artistic and personal responses to other political systems, past and present.


During one intensive week, Institute participants from different disciplines will discuss a selection of readings and view East German films in various genres to address topics such as:

  • Film and media imaginings: utopia and social reform
  • Filmic representations of alterity, authority and dissent
  • Rebellion, civil unrest and youth subcultures
  • Law and order, institutional practices and diffuse forms of authority
  • Movies as both tools of the state and vehicles for change


The Institute will be co-directed by Mariana Ivanova and Seth Howes.

  • Mariana Ivanova is an associate professor of German film and media studies at UMass Amherst. Her monograph Cinema of Collaboration: DEFA Coproductions and International Exchange in Cold War Europe (Berghahn Books, 2019) foregrounds the East German film studio as a key site for cooperative practices at a time of profound ideological division. Her current project re-thinks "heritage cinema" in relation to the recent proliferation of of historical films about private lives impacted by political rivalries and transborder movement during the Cold War.
  • Seth Howes is an assistant professor and director of graduate study in German at the University of Missouri. He is the author of Moving Images on the Margins: Experimental Film in Late Socialist East Germany (Camden House, 2019) and editor, with Cyrus Shahan and Mirko. M. Hall, of Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk (Bloomsbury, 2016). His current work involves Peter Weiss and the Cold War.

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