Black + White ain't Gray. DDR Films 1957 - 1990


Copenhagen - Stockholm - Reykjavík (Hafnarfjörður)

1/10/2009 - 05/12/2009


Although East Germany ceased to exist as a state almost 20 years ago, it has been a popular setting for films in recent years. East German films, too, which hardly seemed to interest anyone in the years directly after the fall of the Wall, have attracted increasing attention over the past years – in Germany and perhaps even more so abroad. Several large retrospectives have helped make the name DEFA known far beyond Germany's borders. The acronym DEFA stands for Deutsche Film AG, East Germany's only major film studio, which produced roughly 950 feature films and shorts, 820 animated films, and 5800 documentaries and newsreels between 1946 and 1992. These films were created between the conflicting poles of state control and the artistic will to expression. The restrictions that were imposed from above were an unreliable variable; thaw-phases of relative freedom were frequently followed by severe freezes. But even in periods of massive state interference, many films emerged that are remarkable for the excellence of their craftsmanship, directorial expertise and the actors' performances featured. These films, characterized by their powerful images and compelling stories, manage to convey a vivid impression of a country that was not always as drab and gray as one might imagine. A small selection of DEFA films from the years between 1957 und 1990 provides fascinating insights into a small country directly behind the Iron Curtain – without a trace of "Ostalgia."


Ralf Dittrich