Wende Flicks: Last Films from East Germany

September 28th, 2009

Wende Flicks: Last Films from East Germany
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

(Washington, DC, September 25, 2009) – Films made by the last generation of East German filmmakers (1988-1994) screen at the Goethe-Institut October 5 – November 30, 2009. The filmmakers, many of whom had not been allowed to make their own films before, produced works that are honest, indicting, complex – and even subjective. Former East German Andreas Dresen, now one of Germany’s leading filmmakers, will be present for the screening of his film Silent Country on Monday, October 8.

“Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people) is the most famous chant connected to the Wende, the peaceful revolution in Germany 20 years ago. Rather than being a singular historical event, the Wende describes a process of change, beginning with discussions and escapes, involving government decisions in the former Soviet Union and Hungary which undermined the East German government, and ranging from mass demonstrations to a civil rights movement. It culminated in a peaceful revolution in East Germany, a political and monetary union between East and West Germany, and an idealistic vision of blühende Landschaften (thriving landscapes) for the newly-formed German states.

Organized by the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts and presented in cooperation with the German Historical Institute, Wende Flicks showcases six feature and two documentary films made by East German filmmakers from 1988-1994. Most of these films were made by the last generation of East German filmmakers, all of whom trained at DEFA (Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft), the state-run film production studio. Here, their repressed talents exploded in films such as:

Monday, October 5, 6:30 pm

The Mistake (Die Verfehlung)
Germany, 1991, 100 min., 35 mm, German with English subtitles, Director: Heiner Carow, Cast: Angelica Domröse, Gottfried John, Dagmar Manzel, Katja Paryla
Introduced by Barton Byg, professor of film and German studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A short time before the fall of the Wall: Elizabeth, living in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), falls in love with Jacob from West Germany. When somebody reports Jacob’s unregistered visits to the police, they find their love being dragged into the political discourse of a failing system.
Heiner Carow was born in Rostock, East Germany, in 1929. His film The Legend of Paul and Paula (1973) is said to have been the longest-playing film in German cinemas.
There is no charge for this film. RSVP to 202-289-1200 ext. 166.

Thursday, October 8, 6:30 pm

Silent Country (Stilles Land)
Germany, 1992, 98 min., 35 mm, German with English subtitles, Director: Andreas Dresen, Cast: Thorsten Merten, Jeanette Arndt, Kurt Böwe, Petra Kelling
Filmmaker Andreas Dresen will introduce the film and lead a discussion after the screening.
In Fall 1989, a young, naive and enthusiastic theater director named Kai comes to a grim East German town to put on Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Meanwhile, the world is changing and somewhere, far away in the capital, a revolution is taking place. Great hopes emerge in the little town and unexpected events overtake Kai’s mutating production.
The first feature film by Andreas Dresen, Silent Country took the Berlin International Film Festival by surprise and received both the Hesse Film Award and the German Critics’ Award in 1993. This is an articulate, comic, refreshingly modernist film about the reunification.

Monday, October 19, 6:30 pm

The Architects (Die Architekten)
Germany, 1990, color, 35mm, 97 min., Director: Peter Kahane, Cast: Kurt Naumann, Rita Feldmeier
Introduced by Uta A. Balbier, research fellow, German Historical Institute.
Daniel Brenner, an idealistic architect, is deeply frustrated by life under the communist system, but somehow tolerates it. Then he gets an offer to design a cultural center for a gigantic Berlin satellite town. But he and his team fail to realize their vision: It’s 1989 and the GDR has crumbled.
Peter Kahane was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1949. He studied directing at the Academy of Film & Television (HFF) in Potsdam-Babelsberg. His films include Cosimas Lexikon (1992) and Red Zora (Die Rote Zora, 2007).

Monday, October 26, 6:30 pm

The Tango Player (Der Tangospieler)
Germany, 1991, 96 min., 35 mm, Director: Roland Gräf, Cast: Michael Gwisdek, Corinna Harfouch, Hermann Beyer, Peter Sodann, Jaecki Schwarz
Introduced by Martin Klimke, research fellow, German Historical Institute.
Dr. Dallow has been released after 21 months in prison for playing piano in a “subversive” cabaret program. The Stasi (secret police) want him to become an informant in exchange for getting his university position back, but he refuses and lives from hand to mouth in increasing isolation. How long can he continue like this?
Based on the 1991 novel by East German author Christoph Hein which broached two taboo topics: the Stasi and the Soviet repression of the Prague Spring of 1968.
Roland Gräf was born in Meuselbach, East Germany, in 1934. All his films present profound psychological portraits and important contributions to German film history.

Monday, November 2, 6:30 pm

whisper & SHOUT (flüstern & SCHREIEN)
East Germany, 1988, 120 min., DVD, Director: Dieter Schumann
Introduced by Ines Prodöhl, research fellow, German Historical Institute.
This documentary depicts the subculture music scene of the late 1980s in East Germany based on various bands like Silly, Sandow and Feeling B, and on interviews with teenage fans, who needed the music to express their opposition to their parents and to the system. The film was first released in October 1988, and was sold out for weeks. Within a short time, it became a cult film.
Dieter Schumann was born in Ludwigslust, East Germany, in 1953. In 1994, he reviewed the material he had gathered for this film and produced a follow-up.

Monday, November 9, 6:30 pm

Jana and Jan (Jana und Jan)
Germany, 1992, 87 min., 35 mm, Director: Helmut Dziuba, Cast: Kristin Scheffer, René Guß, Julia Brendler, Peter Sodann
Introduced by Jan Logemann, visiting research fellow, German Historical Institute.
When Jan tries to escape to West Germany to rejoin his parents, he gets caught and sent to a reformatory. There, Jan meets Jana and they fall in love. Jana gets pregnant, and life begins to spiral out of control as 1990 begins…
Helmut Dziuba was born in Dresden, East Germany, in 1933. He studied directing at the Film Academy in Moscow, Russia. In 1968, he began to work as a director at the DEFA Studio for Feature Films, the East German state-run film studio.

Monday, November 16, 6:30 pm

Burning Life
Germany, 1994, 105 min., 35 mm, Director: Peter Welz, Cast: Anna Thalbach, Maria Schrader, Max Tidof, Jaecki Schwarz, Andreas Hoppe, Dani Levy
Introduced by Uwe Spiekermann, deputy director, German Historical Institute.
In the desolate eastern states of a newly unified Germany, Anna and Lisa plan a series of bank robberies. They quickly become the most popular gangster duo of German postwar history, hunted by the police but viewed as present-day female Robin Hoods by those in need.
Peter Welz was born in Berlin in 1963. He studied directing at the Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Welz is also known for his supporting roles in films such as Icarus (1975) and The Name of the Rose (1986).

Monday, November 23, 6:30 pm

Heart Leap (Herzsprung)
Germany, 1992, 87 min., 35 mm, Director: Helke Misselwitz, Cast: Claudia Geisler, Nino Sandow, Ben Becker, Eva-Maria Hagen, Günter Lamprecht, Tatjana Besson
Introduced by Anke Ortlepp, research fellow, German Historical Institute.
In the little town of Herzsprung (also translated as “heartbreak”) nothing has changed since German unification – except a rise in unemployment. Johanna, a young mother and widow, lives on social welfare. To make matters worse, she falls in love with the dark-skinned Manuel, and the whole village is talking about it.
Helke Misselwitz was born in Planitz, East Germany, in 1947. She worked as a director at the DEFA Studio for Documentary Films. She teaches directing at the Academy of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg.

Monday, November 30, 6:30 pm

Leipzig in the Fall (Leipzig im Herbst)
East Germany, 1989, 50 min., DVD, Directors: Gerd Kroske, Andreas Voigt
Introduced by Richard F. Wetzell, research fellow, German Historical Institute.
Known for being a comprehensive portrayal of the demonstrations and other events in Leipzig from October 16 – November 7, 1989, this film includes interviews with demonstrators, members of the citizens’ rights movement, officials, and bystanders.
Gerd Kroske and Andreas Voigt received international recognition for their film Leipzig in the Fall.

General Admission for Goethe-Institut screenings:
$ 6/$ 4 Members of Friends of the Goethe-Institut, seniors and students
Tickets can be purchased right before the screenings, or during office hours Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm and Friday 10am-3pm, or online at www.boxofficetickets.com/goethe.

About the Goethe-Institut:
On behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, cultural institutes around the world provide cultural programs, language courses, support to educators, and up-to-date information on Germany in the context of Europe. Founded in 1990, Goethe-Institut Washington, DC is a center for German culture and language, and for the coordination of media projects for all of North America. From its location in the revitalized Downtown, the Goethe-Institut Washington reaches out to both individuals and organizations in the community, bridging the past, present, and future with high-quality events.

812 Seventh St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown

Media Contact:
Norma Broadwater
202-289-1200, ext. 106

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