The Female Directors of East Germany Pt. 1: The DEFA Directors

A short overview of the women directors who worked at DEFA.

The Murder of Rathenau

A 1961 television docudrama about the assassination of the German Foreign Minister for the Weimar Republic who tried to make peace with the Soviets. A morality play about the impossibility of finding common ground when you’re dealing with fascists.

Were the Earth Not Round

While sitting in a hospital with her ailing daughter, an East German woman reflects on her relationship with a Syrian man and her grandfather’s obsession with building a perpetual motion machine. Were the Earth Not Round (Wäre die Erde nicht rund) is the story of Christiane (Bożena Stryjkówna), an East German woman studying geology at… Continue reading Were the Earth Not Round

Location Hunting

When documentary filmmaker Rüdiger Stein decides to make a film about an ordinary couple, he finds that he's bitten off more than her can chew.

Lotte in Weimar

In 1774, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther took Germany by storm.1 Goethe would go on to become the most important writer in Germany and it started with this book. The book is told from the perspective of a young man, pining over his unrequited love for a woman named Lotte. He… Continue reading Lotte in Weimar

Biology!

A fifteen-year-old girl decides that the adults in her community aren’t taking environmental issues seriously enough, so she starts a campaign to keep them from destroying the environment. Sound familiar? This film was made fourteen years before Greta Thunberg was born. In 1989, the government in the GDR had begun to relax its restrictions on… Continue reading Biology!

The Night on the Autobahn

After graduating from medical school, a young doctor crosses paths with West German spies in this dark spy/crime film from the early sixties. Right after the Wall was built, politicians were anxious to demonstrate that the Wall would have no effect on creative freedom, and that, if anything, it would protect the average person from… Continue reading The Night on the Autobahn

Marta, Marta

Carefree and perky, Marta moves through life without much thought, until things get real. Every once in a while, a television movie comes along that becomes as much a part of media literacy as any feature film. It’s the one that everyone was talking about the next day at work and continued to talk about… Continue reading Marta, Marta

Simplon Tunnel

A romantic triangle story told against the backdrop of the building of the Simplon Tunnel at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, as workers battle the elements to build one of the longest railway tunnels in the world.

Love at 16

Two teenagers, who are paired up in dance class, eventually fall in love in this period piece from 1974. TRIGGER WARNING: Contains fashions from 1974. Love at 16 (Liebe mit 16) belongs to a list of DEFA films that focus on the concerns of teenagers. The list includes Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry, Too Young… Continue reading Love at 16