DEFA: 70 Year Anniversary
DEFA-Film Series at Auckland Art Gallery

A native American holds a rifle
Copyright: DEFA-Stiftung/Waltraut Pathenheimer

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DEFA Studio in East Germany, the Goethe-Institut New Zealand presents in its Winter Film Series at the Auckland Art Gallery a film programme highlighting different themes and genres that were important to the DEFA. 70 years onwards the films give a glimpse into the diversity of film production in East Germany and offer a rare insight into the life, thinking and being of people behind the wall.

In May 1946, just after the Second World War, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany granted a film production licence to the DEFA (Deutsche Film-AG) Studio. Film was seen as a valuable tool to influence and shape public opinion and the Administration in the Soviet controlled Eastern sector of the country was keen to rebuild a German film industry. Films were to be produced that would help to convey antifascism and reeducate the German people.

Only five months later the first DEFA film, THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US (by Wolfgang Staudte) was released, the very first German film made after WWII. Until 1990 when the DEFA Studio closed after the reunification of the two Germanies, almost 5,000 fiction, documentary and animation films had been produced.

Politics and official discourses always influenced the film production in the German Democratic Republic. However, in their diversity of subject matter and style, the films of the DEFA give a rich insight into the world behind the wall, mirroring and commenting the reality of life in the GDR.
All films will be screened with English subtitles. Many of them will be shown in New Zealand for the first time. A short introduction will be given to each of the films by Dorothée Basel, former head of distribution at the DEFA Foundation in Berlin.

Text: Dorothée Basel

Screening Dates - Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium

Saturdays 12 noon, 23 and 30 July 2016, 6 and 13 August 2016


23 July: History and Politics: Film "The Murderers Are Among Us"
30 July: Everyday Life in the GDR: Film "The Dove on the Roof"
6 August: DEFA Documentar Film: Film "4 Short Documentaries"
13 August: Genre Films - Westerns: Film "Chingachgook - The Great Snake"