DEFA Film Library release first feature film DVD

The campus-based DEFA Film Library has released its first feature film DVD, German filmmaker Andreas Dresen’s 1997 work “Changing Skins.”

The DVD was produced in collaboration with students and professors in Germanic Languages and Literatures and the commercial media authoring house, Cinemagnetics. The DEFA Film Library acquired the distribution rights from the German public television station Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg, RBB, one of several new agreements that the DEFA Film Library concluded with producers of post-unification films

“Changing Skins” will premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. in 227 Herter Hall. The screening is in German with English subtitles and free and open to the public. The movie is set in East Germany in 1977, during the infamous Red Army Faction (RAF) kidnapping of industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer in West Germany. A couple of East German teens are caught with contraband photos of West German Baader-Meinhof terrorists. In an attempt to divert the harsh punishment promised, they improvise an RAF-style kidnapping of the school principal.

Trained in East Germany, Dresen’s career began as the Berlin Wall was crumbling. Dresen’s first feature, “Silent Country” (1992), was set in the East German provinces, where an eager youth theater director tries to stage “Waiting for Godot” in a run-down, small-town theater with a cast of cynics and drunks. Dresen’s film “Night Shapes” (1998) earned critical acclaim as a slice-of-life look at the Berlin of today, and his recent “Grill Point” (2001) was an audience favorite at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival, with its breakthrough use of cast improvisation to replace a script. A member of the Academy of Arts Berlin-Brandenburg since 1998, Dresen received the Andrzej Wajda/Philip Morris Freedom Prize in 2002. He currently lives in Potsdam.

The DEFA Film Library is also releasing a series of new subtitled East German feature films, made possible by partnerships with educational and commercial organizations and companies in the U.S. and Germany. Along with Icestorm Entertainment, one of Germany''s largest commercial media distributors, the DEFA Film Library will release nine newly remastered DVDs to the home video and educational markets in the U.S. and Canada, as well as to German-speaking territories and Goethe Institutes worldwide. The DEFA Film Library staff is now creating its own new English subtitles and special features, in collaboration with noted international scholars.