A Cultural Legacy: DEFA’s Afterlife

  • Sebastian Heiduschke


In December 1992, production of DEFA films ended for good when the French real estate firm Compagnie Immobilière Phénix (CIP) bought the DEFA feature film studio for 130 million German marks; renamed it Studio Babelsberg; hired Volker Schlöndorff, a renowned (West) German filmmaker as CEO; and began dividing the studio premises.’ The trademark DEFA was dropped from the German trade register in 1994 when nobody claimed it. Further, without any organization actively promoting DEFA films, a complicated legal situation preventing large-scale commercial film distribution in the area of the old West Germany,2 and no new films coming on the market with the DEFA logo, DEFA cinema appeared to die a quick death. Meanwhile, all East German movie theaters had been privatized and catered to the desires of a general public who were ignorant and indifferent about East German cinema or who preferred Hollywood productions to films they associated with their East German past. DEFA cinema disappeared from the public realm in post-unification Germany with the exception of the occasional late-night television broadcast or as a film retrospective. Hardly anyone seemed to miss DEFA films.


Movie Theater Theme Park Home Video German Mark Home Entertainment 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Stefan Haupt, Urheberrecht und DEFA-Film (Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2005).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The concept of invented traditions was addressed by Eric Hobsbawm in a different context. See Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Granger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Dina Iordanova, Cinema of the Other Europe (London: Wallflower, 2003), 143–146.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Torsten Wahl, “DEFA-Filme als Renner der Videothek?” Berliner Zeitung, June 30, 1995, snacht-im-kino-boerse- defa-filme-als-renner-der-videothek-,10810590,8971612. html.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp,’” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays, ed. Susan Sontag (New York: Farrar, 1967), 275–292.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Granger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 4.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006).Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    For the concept of “poaching,” see Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, updated ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013). For more detail on visual artist Matthias Fritsch, who tested the effect of Web 2.0 culture, see—mfritsch/works/installation/ technoviking-archiv/technoviking-archive.html. The original “Technoviking” video can be found at, and the video response by frischbeton, using Heißer Sommer, at dTH_pWtFA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sebastian Heiduschke 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Heiduschke

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations