DEFA Film Library
at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Cinema of East Germany
Four films based on the work of renowned East German Jewish writer Jurek Becker are available to book for your institution:
Jurek Becker (1937-1997), one of the most important (East) German authors of the 20th century, was born in Poland in 1937. As a child he lived in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, Poland, and survived the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. His novel Jacob the Liar, published in 1969, established his reputation worldwide. Many of Becker's novels, short stories and scripts for television and cinema productions focus on explorations of Jewish identity.
Since the author's death, Christine Becker has edited and published a collection of her husband's letters ('Ihr Unvergleichlichen!'- 2004), followed by a collection of his essays, lectures and interviews entitled Mein Vater, die Deutschen und ich: Aufsätze, Vorträge, Interviews (2007). Both appear with Suhrkamp Verlag. Christine Becker is sometimes available to introduce the films on the tour.
Jacob invents news stories to bolster the spirits of the other Jews living in a Polish ghetto under Nazi occupation. The bitter comedy, written by Jurek Becker, is loaded with human quirks and nuances. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1977, this film was remade in Hollywood in 1999, starring Robin Williams.
Available Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DVD, VHS
A teenage son discovers his father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and two others beating an old man who is handcuffed to a bed. The captive is a former Nazi guard (Rolf Hoppe), now held by his Jewish former prisoners. The film is a story of the intergenerational conflicts and questions of personal justice arising from the Holocaust.
Available Formats: 35mm, VHS, DVD
Shortcut to Istanbul
A story about an encounter between a young Turkish guest worker living in West Berlin and an East Berlin girl, a few days after the Wall is opened. Filled with helplessness, insecurity and comedy, this film is a parable about the relationship between East and West Germans, and between Germans and foreigners, as they slowly try to learn to understand each other. Prix Europe 1992, Prize of the Signees of the Oberhausen Manifesto 1991, Grand Prix Poitiers, France 1991. Based on Becker’s short story Romeo.
Available Formats: DVD
While All Germans Sleep
Available Formats: DVD
If your institution or cinema would like to join the tour, please contact Hiltrud at firstname.lastname@example.org
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