Film Streaming Films Across Borders: Jacob the Liar (1974), dir. Frank Beyer

Jacob the Liar - FAB © DEFA-Stiftung

Sat, 11/30/2019 -
Fri, 12/04/2020


Please RSVP in order to gain access to this film. The screening link to the film and the password will be sent out on Monday, November 30, at 5:00pm EST via Eventbrite. The film will be available to view until Friday, December 4, at 5:00pm EST. This film will be available across the United States. RSVP Films Across Borders showcases critically acclaimed films, documentaries and shorts from around the world. Co-presented by American University in partnership with embassy cultural organizations, arts institutions and environmental groups, the series focuses on a distinctive timely and compelling theme each year.

Now in its sixth year, Films Across Borders presents Stories of Resilience and Hope. The 2020 cinematic series features stories of humans and wildlife – and the harrowing and heartfelt challenges they face to survive and triumph in all corners of the world.

We are pleased to share that the 2020 series will be offered in a virtual format. 

Jacob the Liar / Jakob der Lügner (1974), dir. Frank Beyer
German Democratic Republic, 1974, 101 min. In color. In German with English subtitles. Written by Jurek Becker and Frank Beyer.
In a Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Poland in 1944, Jacob Heym is summoned to the police station. While there, Jacob overhears on the radio that "the Russians are twenty kilometers from Bezanika." The next day, he tells this to a despondent friend who is about to commit suicide and the news renews his hope in salvation. As no one would believe the true story, Jacob pretends to have a radio; as no one in the ghetto is allowed to have a radio, however, all are eager to hear news from the outside world and constantly ask Jacob for updates on the advance of the Soviets. Jacob creates fictional reports to help alleviate the unbearable hopelessness of those around him. But his tales ultimately cannot save the ghetto from the horrors of the Holocaust.

A bittersweet film loaded with human quirks and nuance. Based on the book by Jurek Becker.

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1977, the story was remade in Hollywood starring Robin Williams in 1999.

Frank Beyer (born September 1932 in Nobitz) one of the most important German directors of the postwar period, directed some of Germany’s most powerful and historically significant films. Born in Noblitz, Germany in 1932, he first studied drama in Berlin. He then transferred to the famed Prague Film School (FAMU), where he studied directing alongside Miloš Forman and other promising Czechoslovakian directors. After completing his FAMU thesis film, Zwei Mütter, he joined the DEFA Studios as a freelance assistant director in 1957. Beyer was already an established director for DEFA when he made Trace of Stones in 1966; however, the film was deemed unsuitable and too critical of East German values and subsequently banned.

In the years that followed, Beyer directed stage productions for the Staatstheater Dresden and Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and began a prolific career directing movies for East German television. Only in 1974 was he allowed to return to the DEFA Studios, this time to direct Jacob the Liar, which in 1976 became the only East German film ever nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Beyer died in Berlin in 2006.