Rebels with a Cause: The Cinema of East Germany
Nov. 6 – Dec. 7, 2006
The most comprehensive retrospective of East German cinema ever screened in the US, Rebels With a Cause features significant works by inventive filmmakers who tested the limits of censorship. The creative merit, depth and political engagement of these films have cemented their contribution to film history. For years largely unknown to audiences in Germany and abroad, these films are being brought to Washington by AFI, the National Gallery of Art and the Goethe-Institut Washington, in collaboration with the DEFA Film Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst with the support of DEFA Stiftung.
All films in German with English subtitles. All films unrated unless otherwise noted.
AFI member passes will be accepted at all screenings in The Cinema of East Germany Series.
Newly liberated after two failed relationships, amorous Jutta Hoffmann pursues a colleague in what is not only an entertaining love story, but also a testament to the evolving self-confidence and independence of East German women. Hoffmann earned Best Actress honors at the 1972 Venice Film Festival for her performance. With Oscar-nominated actor Armin Mueller-Stahl (SHINE).
DIR Egon Günther; SCR Günther Rücker; PROD. Germany, 1971, color, 111 min.
THE LEGEND OF PAUL AND PAULA
[Die Legende von Paul und Paula]
A cult favorite so popular that official media blackouts could not keep audiences away. Filmmakers Plenzdorf and Carow winningly portray everyday life in East Berlin in a story of undefeatable, passionate love between a single mother and a married bureaucrat. Featuring the music of the East German cult rock band, The Puhdys.
DIR/SCR Heiner Carow; SCR Ulrich Plenzdorf; PROD Harry Leupold. Germany, 1972, color, 106 min.
Stalinist critics condemned the original stage production of this work - written for Brecht's Berliner Ensemble - as "formalist" and "politically harmful." This adaptation of Maxim Gorky's 1931 novel tells the moving story of an oppressed Russian woman (a landmark performance by Helene Weigel) who is transformed into a militant revolutionary. Filmed by DEFA, this production (directed after Brecht's death by Wekwerth) retains many from Brecht's original cast.
DIR Manfred Wekwerth and Harry Bremer; Based on the play by Bertolt Brecht. Germany, 1958, b&w, 147 min.
THE SECOND TRACK
[Das zweite Gleis]
The only East German film to explore the theme of former Nazis leading normal lives in the GDR. Rarely shown in theaters, it contains remarkably expressive b&w images that intensify the story of guilt, repression and oblivion. When Station Inspector Brock fails to turn in a robbery culprit, it stirs up his feelings of being trapped by not standing up to Nazi persecution years ago.
DIR/SCR Joachim Kunert; SCR Günter Kunert; PROD Bernhard Gelbe. Germany, 1962, b&w, 80 min.
THE RABBIT IS ME
[Das Kaninchen bin ich]
Made in 1965 to encourage discussion of the democratization of East German society, officials banned the film soon afterward as an attack on the state. THE RABBIT IS ME earned critical praise after 1989 as one of the most important and courageous works ever filmed by DEFA. In it, a young student has an affair with a hypocritical judge who once sentenced her brother for his political activities. She eventually confronts him with his opportunism and abuse of power.
DIR Kurt Maetzig; SCR Manfred Bieler; PROD Martin Sonnabend. Germany, 1965/1990, b&w, 109 min.
The story of how the Spanish painter Francisco Goya - played by the great Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis - evolved from his role as court painter to King Carlos IV to become the chronicler of popular rebellion.
DIR Konrad Wolf; SCR Angel Vagenshtain and Lion Feuchtwanger, based on his novel; PROD Alfred Hirschmeier and Valeri Yurkevich. Germany, 1971, color, 134 min.