• Sebastian Heiduschke


If you are a novice to East German cinema, this book is for you. For some years, I have been teaching courses on German (and German language) film, covering virtually all periods and genres, from the silent film of the expressionist era to the films of the Berlin School. I introduced Westerns, comedies, dramas, documentaries, newsreels, animated pieces, short films, mainstream, and independent productions—you name it. I taught masterpieces and obscure films, and each time, I had no trouble finding appropriate texts to provide a first introduction, a theoretical framework, or an in-depth study of the films I would show my students. Not quite each time, however. Whenever I put the period between 1945 and 1990 on my teaching agenda, I ran into the problem that I suddenly would have not one, but essentially two national cinemas to teach. After Germany had lost World War II, it split into two separate countries, East Germany and West Germany, and each developed its own national film industry. For my film courses covering both halves of the divided screen, finding appropriate texts has become easier and easier over the years.1 However, when I taught courses on my research specialty—East German cinema—I was often dissatisfied with the selection of books, but not for a lack of outstanding and well-researched texts focusing on numerous fascinating topics and intricate details, I should point out.2 Yet whenever I shared my field of research expertise with friends, colleagues, students, and other film scholars who knew nothing about East German cinema, I found it vexing that there was no introductory-length text I could recommend to help them understand my passion for this period of German film.


Fairy Tale Movie Theater Silent Film Research Specialty Animated Film 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    For example, Sabine Hake, German National Cinema, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2008);Google Scholar
  2. Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter, and Deniz Gokturk, eds. The German Cinema Book (London: British Film Institute, 2008);Google Scholar
  3. Stephen Brockman, A Critical History of German Film (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010);Google Scholar
  4. Terri Ginsberg and Andrea Mensch, eds. A Companion to German Cinema (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); andGoogle Scholar
  5. Jennifer Kapczynski and Michael Richardson, eds. A New History of German Cinema (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012).Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    Some books to start are Seán Allan and John Sandford, eds., DEFA: East German Cinema 1946–1992 (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999);Google Scholar
  7. Leonie Naughton, That Was the Wild East: Film Culture, Unification, and the “New” Germany (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002);Google Scholar
  8. Joshua Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949–1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001);Google Scholar
  9. Daniela Berghahn, Hollywood behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005);Google Scholar
  10. and Anke Pinkert, Film and Memory in East Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  11. 3.
    For two German-language treatments of the DEFA documentary genre, see Günter Jordan and Ralf Schenk, Schwarzweiß und Farbe: DEFA-Dokumentarfilme 1946–1992 (Berlin: Jovis, 1996)Google Scholar
  12. and Tobias Ebbrecht, Hilde Hoffmann, and Jörg Schweinitz, eds., DDR Erinnern, Vergessen: Das visuelle Gedächtnis des Dokumentarfilms (Marburg, Germany: Schüren, 2009).Google Scholar
  13. 4.
    Ralf Forster and Volker Petzold, Im Schatten der DEFA: Private Filmproduzenten in der DDR (Konstanz: UVK, 2010).Google Scholar
  14. 5.
    A good start into this genre would be Nora Alter, Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema 1967–2000 (Ann Arbor: University ofMichigan Press, 2003). Some of these films are available as bonus material or have been released separately on DVD by the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Google Scholar
  15. 7.
    See Ralf Schenk and Sabine Scholze, Die Trick-Fabrik: DEFA-Animationsfilme, 1955–1990 (Berlin: Bertz + Fischer, 2003).Google Scholar

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© Sebastian Heiduschke 2013

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  • Sebastian Heiduschke

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