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The second biannual East German Summer Film Institute presents

DEFA and Eastern European Cinemas
July 7-13, 2003

Film Screening Schedule

Over twenty-five educators and researchers from around the world will participate in a week of film screenings, workshops and panel discussions with specialists in the field. Led by Professors Barton Byg (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Eric Rentschler (Harvard), and Katie Trumpener (Yale) and attended by directors Dietmar Hochmuth and Vojtech Jasny.

The Institute
Film Screenings
Workshop Conveners
Guest Scholars
Contact Info

NEW! - Workshop & Screening Schedule
NEW! - Recommended Readings

The Institute

As new members join the European Union and as Europe itself begins to function increasingly as a joint unit, its center of gravity has been moving East. Indeed, the East is what is new in the new Europe, and what is new in the united Germany. In the second decade after reunification a new perspective on the long period of the Cold War is now possible.

To what degree do the master narratives and formal techniques developed by East German and Eastern European filmmakers during the decades of socialism continue to inform their vision of cinema, even now? Are the various nationalist cinemas of the former socialist bloc still linked to each other and to their socialist pasts? What are the institutional continuities and discontinuities within these cinemas? What cultural dialogues took place -- and still take place -- between nationalities and between present and past? Such questions form the background of the DEFA Film Library’s second biannual East German Summer Film Institute, DEFA and Eastern European Cinemas.

The workshop will simultaneously attempt an interdisciplinary approach to national culture and history and foster modes of analysis which transcend national boundaries. In particular we will investigate the complicated relationship between the GDR cinema and the cinemas of USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. Although they have distinct histories, throughout the Cold War the cultures of Eastern Europe and East Germany were also intertwined. Each crisis in one country had profound, yet varied, repercussions in all the others. We will be looking not only at co-productions, shared personnel, and overlapping professional networks but also at questions of aesthetic influence, institutional parallels and political divergences.

Over the course of a week of film screenings and workshop discussions we will touch on a wide range of film styles, and on an equally wide range of historical issues, from the building of socialism, Stalinization and de-Stalinization, to the Eastern European New Waves and the effects of Glasnost and Perestroika on Eastern filmmaking.

Our goal is to help participants place these cinematic traditions relationally, and to facilitate the development of new curricula integrating the study of DEFA and Eastern European cinemas.

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Twenty-Five educators at the university/college and secondary levels have been selected from over 50 applicants. Each participant has had some experience teaching film and/or cultural studies, and would like to integrate the cinemas of Eastern Europe and the GDR into their work. As this week-long seminar is interdisciplinary in nature, the scholars come from a variety of disciplines, such as Film Studies, German and Slavic Studies, History, Communications, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Art, Art History and Literature.


Each day's discussion will use the collective analysis of specific films as a way into aesthetic, historical, political, cultural and pedagogical issues. All discussions will be facilitated by workshop conveners (Barton Byg, Eric Rentschler and Katie Trumpener), and by guest scholars with particular expertise in GDR and in Eastern European cinemas. Workshop themes are "Memory of Violence," "Youth and De-Stalinization," "The Return of History As Film," and "Degrees of Dissent." See the schedule.

Film Screenings

All screenings are free and open to the public.

Monday, July 7
7:00 pm,
The Cranes are Flying / Letyat zhuravli (USSR, 1957, Mikhail Kalatozov, 97 min., b/w, 16mm)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College
A radical beginning for Soviet and Eastern European cinema. A young woman is separated from her fiancé, her innocence is lost in wartime reality. She is raped, marries a man she does not love, and is evacuated to Siberia. Yet she refuses to lose faith in her fiancé, even when she hears of his death.  The Palme d’Or Cannes winner launched Kalatozov’s career in Soviet idealist filmmaking.

8:50 pm, Sun Seekers / Sonnensucher (GDR, 1958/1972, Konrad Wolf, 110 min., b/w, 16mm)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College
One of the first films of the post-Stalin “thaw,” Sun Seekers was nonetheless banned at Soviet request from 1957 to 1972. “Atoms for Peace,” from an Eastern perspective, this was one of Konrad Wolf’s most important films. Echos of Pabst’s Kameradschaft combine with a “wild west” atmosphere, political controversy and German-Soviet mistrust in a post-WW II uranium mining camp.

Tuesday, July 8
pm, The Passenger / Pasazerka (Poland, 1963, Andrzej Munk & Witold Lesiewicz, 62 min, b/w, 35mm)
Academy of Music, Northampton

A great film by a genius of the Polish cinema of the ‘60s, Andrzej Munk, who remains too little known only because he died young. On a cruise ship following World War II, a former camp overseer recognizes someone who may or may not have been one of her prisoners in Auschwitz. This chance meeting triggers a series of flashbacks that ultimately speak to the complexities of domination and suffering, but also to the possibilities for resistance.

3:40 pm, Transport from Paradise / Transport Z Raje (Czech, 1963, Zbynek Brynych, 93 min., b/w, VHS projection)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College
While outwardly a seeming paradise for prominent musicians, artists, and intellectuals, the Terezin ghetto was actually a way station to Auschwitz.  This film illuminates the conflict between appearance and reality in Terezin (or Theresienstadt), as it captures the preparations for a visit by the Red Cross, the making of a propaganda film featuring its happy and healthy inhabitants, and the ensuing deportation.  Based on the book “Night and Hope.”

7:30 pm, Stars / Sterne (GDR & Bulgaria, 1959, Konrad Wolf, 92 min., b/w, 16mm)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College
Stars is set in a Bulgarian transit camp during the Third Reich where thousands of Greek Sephardic Jews await transport to Auschwitz.  The film explores the ambiguities of persecution in a hopeless love story between a German officer and an imprisoned Jewish teacher.  With a script by Angel Wagenstein (who also adapted Feuchtwanger’s Goya), Stars established Konrad Wolf’s international reputation.  A Bulgarian / East German coproduction, it won the Special Grand Jury Prize of the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, where, for political reasons, it was billed as a Bulgarian film.

Wednesday, July 9
pm, Structure of Crystals / Struktura krysztalu (Poland, 1969, Krzystof Zanussi, 74 min., b/w, 35mm)
Academy of Music, Northampton

Krzysztof Zanussi’s debut feature tells the story of a metropolitan member of the scientific elite who meets with a reclusive old friend to convince him to return to the city and resume his scientific work. “It was the first of a series of films [by Zanussi] that look at the scientific community [mainly uncharted territory in the cinema except for science fiction] to make general philosophical points” (The Faber Companion to Foreign Films).

3:10 pm, Father / Apa (Hungary, 1966, István Szabó, 98 min., b/w, 35mm)
Academy of Music, Northampton

This sensitive, intelligent study of adolescence and maturation focuses on a young man whose defense mechanism consists of idealizing the memory of his dead father. One of the key films of the Hungarian film renaissance, Father is a daring, emotionally charged film. By the director of Colonel Redl, Mephisto and Sunshine.

7:30 pm, Born in 45 / Jahrgang 45 (GDR, 1966/90, Jürgen Boettcher, 94 min., b/w, 16mm)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College
Alfred and Lisa, a young couple living in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, have only been married a couple of months but decide to divorce. Alfred takes a few days off to clear his head, riding through Berlin and meeting friends and strangers. He ultimately returns to Lisa, perhaps a good omen, but the ending remains open. The only feature film by the painter and documentary filmmaker, Jürgen Böttcher, Born in ‘45 captures, with its rhythm, its lacunae, and its disposition, the life of 20-year-olds in Prenzlauer Berg and translates it into an elementary world language. Banned in 1966, the film was first shown in cinemas in the spring of 1990.

Thursday, July 10
2:00 pm, Location Hunting / Motivsuche (GDR, 1990, Dietmar Hochmuth, 112 min., color, 35mm)
Director Dietmar Hochmuth Present
Academy of Music, Northampton
The story of a documentary film maker who begins a new project:  Rüdiger Stein films Klaus and Manuela, young expectant parents, for a film on “Starting a Family”.  As the project threatens to fall apart, Rüdiger becomes personally involved in this family-to-be when, after the death of Klaus’s father, Rüdiger steps in as his guardian.  Thanks to his experiences with Klaus and Manuela, Rüdiger is able to face his work and his life with open eyes.  Released in 1990, this is one of the last DEFA films.

4:30 pm, Innocence Unprotected / Nevinost bez zastite (Yugoslavia, 1968, Dusan Makavejev, 75 min., color & b/w, VHS projection)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College

In 1942 Innocence Unprotected debuted as the first Serbian talkie. Over 20 years later, Dusan Makavejev retrieved the film from the archives, tinted many of the sequences by hand, and interviewed the original cast and crew in present day Yugoslavia 1968. The resulting cinematic collage is a funny and daring (in both content and form) mix of a wide variety of film footage – including documentary, narrative, agitprop, and various other bits and pieces of found footage.

7:30 pm, Man of Marble / Czlowiek z Marmuru (Poland, 1976, Andrej Wajda, 160 min., color & b/w, DVD projection)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College

Thirteen years in the making, Wajda’s film caused packed houses to rise and sing the Polish national anthem when it finally premiered in Poland in 1977. Denied entrance at Cannes by Polish authorities, it played nonetheless at a commercial theatre there and won the International Critics’ Prize. Man of Marble is the story of a young filmmaker trying to reconstruct a truthful picture of the Stalinist past, a past obscured by 20 years of shifting propaganda.

Friday, July 11
1:45 pm, Daisies / Sedmikrasky (Czech, 1966, Vera Chytilová, 74 min., color, DVD projection)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College

In this key film from the Czech New Wave, two uninhibited young women (both named Marie) turn against the numbing state of society in a madcap flurry of pranks and material destruction. Beneath the outrageous surface of this avant-garde comedy is a defiant feminist statement and an acknowledgement of the desperation that goes hand-in-hand with rebellion – a state of mind represented by one girl’s attempted suicide. The film so unsettled Czech government officials (and a great many other men) that its release was held up for a year. “... the most adventurous and anarchic Czech movie of the 1960s” (The Faber Companion to Foreign Films).

3:20 pm, Report on the Party and the Guests / O slavnosti a hostech (Czech, 1966, Jan Nemec, 71 min., b/w, VHS projection)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College

A miracle of the Czech New Wave, distinguished with being “banned forever” shortly after it was completed. Voted one of the best films of the decade by The New York Times, it is “an extraordinary allegory…evocative of Kafka or Dostoevsky” (International Film Guide). A group of picnickers are led to an elegant banquet, where the “guests” quickly turn collaborators in this brilliant analysis of society and the individual.

4:45 pm, When You Grow Up, Dear Adam / Wenn du gross bist, lieber Adam (GDR, 1965, Egon Günther, 72 min., color, 16mm)
Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College

In a plot inspired by Cassandra Cat, a magical white swan gives nine-year-old Adam a flashlight with special powers. When the flashlight is shined on a liar, he flies up into the air. Banned in 1965 due to the sharp social and political criticisms in the film, only the liar is partly disguised in a fairy tale presentation. The production was stopped before the film was completed, and only in 1989/90 was the director able to assemble a reconstructed version. Missing sounds and images are replaced with inserts of the script.

8:00 pm, Cassandra Cat / Az prijde kocour (Czech, 1963, Vojtech Jasny, 91 min., color, 35mm)
Director Vojtech Jasny Present
Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall, Smith College

A small town is disrupted by a magical cat from a traveling circus who dons special spectacles that sees people in their true colors. This enchanting fairy tale and moving satire on hypocrisy and folly is a delight for people of all ages. Winner of the Cannes Special Jury Prize.

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Workshop Conveners

Dr. Barton Byg, Founder and Director of the DEFA Film Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Eric Rentschler, Professor of German and Film Studies, Harvard University. Co-Director with Anton Kaes of the German Summer Film Institutes and author of numerous publications on German cinema, such as The Ministry of Illusion. Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1996.

Dr. Katie Trumpener, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Yale University. Author of numerous publications in Anglophone and German Studies, such as the forthcoming book The Divided Screen: the Cinemas of Postwar Germany (Princeton UP).

Guest Scholars

Dr. Oksana Bulgakova, Visiting Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Stanford University. Specialist on Sergei Eisenstein, Russian exiles in Hollywood, and author of numerous publications on Russian and Soviet cinema, such as two chapters in the monograph Die Geschichte des sowjetischen und russischen Films (The History of the Russian and Soviet Film): The Film of the Thaw, 1954–1968; The New conservatism, 1969–1985. Ed. Chrtistine Engel. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999.

Dr. Dina Iordanova, Reader in Film Studies/History of Art at the University of Leicester, UK. Author and editor of numerous publications on Russian and Balkan cinemas, such as The BFI Companion to Eastern European and Russian Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 2000 and Cinema of Flames: Balkan Film, Culture and the Media. London: British Film Institute, 2001.

Dr. Catherine Portuges, Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts Amherst. International authority on Balkan film and author of many publications, such as Screen Memories: The Hungarian Cinema of Marta Meszaros. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993.

Dr. Erika Richter, Film Scholar, Historian, and former DEFA Dramaturge, Berlin, Germany. Prominent DEFA historian, former editor of Film und Fernsehen and current editor of the DEFA-Jahrbuch.

Ralf Schenk, Independent Film Scholar, Historian, and Restorer, Berlin, Germany. Prominent DEFA historian, author and co-editor of numerous publications, including the authoritative DEFA-overview Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg 1946-1992. Berlin and Potsdam: Henschel and Filmmuseum Potsdam, 1994. Currently co-editor with Erika Richter of DEFA-Jahrbuch.

Mark Svede, Art Historian and Curator, Independent Scholar, Ohio. International authority on Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian visual arts, author of several publications and museum exhibition catalogs, he was volume editor for the Latvian component of a four-volume catalog Art of the Baltics: The Struggle for Freedom of Artistic Expression under the Soviets, 1945-1991. 2002.

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Located in the beautiful Connecticut River valley of Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley is home not only to the University of Massachusetts, but also to Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges. The Connecticut River Valley is also full of hiking trails, scenic drives, fine restaurants, interesting bookstores and shops, museums, galleries, movie theaters and concert halls. We are located just east of the Berkshire hills, a two-hour drive west of Boston and 3½ hour drive north of New York City.


The event, organized by the DEFA Film Library of University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be held at the Smith College campus in Northampton, Massachusetts, where participants will be housed in single, air-conditioned rooms in a dormitory. Participants will arrive Monday, July 7 and depart by noon Sunday, July 13. There will be a catered reception on Monday evening of the 7th, and a dinner and dance party on Saturday night, the 12th.

Contact Info

Please submit inquiries to:

Betheny Moore, Event Organizer
DEFA Film Library
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
521 Herter Hall
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-3925
Tel: 413-545-6685
Fax: 413-577-3808

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