Summer Film Institute

Authority and Alterity in East German Movies:

Political Experiments, Rebel Youth and Civil Unrest

Tenth biennial Summer Film Institute of the DEFA Film Library, May 31 – June 7, 2020


The upcoming Summer Film Institute will explore GDR movies and media in relation to concepts of alterity, authority and dissent.


Our 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 any differences between dissent and alterity as socio-political manifestations, and 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 2020 Summer Film Institute will be co-directed by Mariana Ivanova (Incoming Academic Director, DEFA Film Library, UMass Amherst) and Seth Howes (Asst. Prof., Univ. of Missouri).


Applications due March 1, 2020

Acceptance notification: March 16, 2020

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