By S. Heiduschke
East Germany's movie monopoly, Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft, produced a motion pictures ranging past basic propaganda to westerns, musicals, and kid's motion pictures, between others. This publication equips students with the old historical past to appreciate East German cinema and courses the readers in the course of the DEFA archive through examinations of twelve films.
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Extra info for East German Cinema: DEFA and Film History
Yes—and no. In many instances, DEFA compared to studios in Western nations, minus certain aspects that had little room in a socialist society. It helps to think of DEFA as a company operating on similar conditions than Western counterparts. The studio still needed to be competitive, even though it had no domestic competition in East Germany and a regulated market to guarantee distribution of the films. Despite of this beneficial setup, DEFA faced stiff competition in films imported to East Germany, in the growing market share of DFF, and in the easily available West German television channels.
Nevertheless, despite their prominent position in the production process, film directors still relied on the studio’s goodwill; directors who fell into disgrace with the studio leadership faced demotion to assistant director, relegation to television productions, or even complete dismissal. 40 Much like the director, DEFA’s film stars found themselves in a constant predicament, as well. Stars did not exist in East Germany; in official parlance, they were called “audience darlings,” suggesting that the East German people selected these actors over their peers to be in the limelight.
Entering into film trade agreements with studios from Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia was fairly uncomplicated, and films from many of these countries attracted more viewers to East German cinemas—especially when these films turned out to be more radical, innovative, and progressive than DEFA productions. 30 In exchange, DEFA exported its films to these other nations, which guaranteed sales of the film even at time when Western nations refused to purchase DEFA films for political reasons.