DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst to Host German Filmmaker-in-Residence

AMHERST, Mass. - Bernd Sahling, an independent filmmaker from Potsdam, Germany, will be the University of Massachusetts DEFA Film Library’s first filmmaker-in-residence from April 21-29, 1999. Sahling will participate in two public events co-sponsored by the University’s Multicultural Film Festival.

On Wednesday, April 21, he will introduce the film "Jana and Jan" at 8 p.m. at the Pleasant Street Theater, Northampton. The showing of the film (with English subtitles) and following discussion will be free and open to the public.

On Thursday, April 29, Sahling will be one of four distinguished visitors conducting scriptwriting workshops at UMass. Besides Sahling are: Andrew Horton, the Jeanne H. Smith Professor of Film at the University of Oklahoma; Norman Rajko Grlic, Ohio Eminent Professor of Film at Ohio University, Athens; and Renos Haralambidis, director of the Greek film "No Budget Story," to be screened at the Multicultural Film Festival April 28.

The morning scriptwriting panel is open to the public; afternoon workshops for students require registration with the film studies office at 413/545-3659. As filmmaker-in-residence Sahling will also visit German and film classes at UMass, and will meet with the members of the German language suite. For more information on Sahling’s schedule, please contact the DEFA Film Library, 413/545-6681.

Sahling served as assistant director of "Jana and Jan" and supervised casting of the film, directed by Helmut Dziuba in 1992. Outstanding performances by young lay actors are the trademark of Dziuba’s dramatic feature films. "Jana and Jan" draws on the personal experiences of inmates of a youth detention center in East Germany in the turbulent months surrounding German unification in 1990.

Sahling has made 11 films as an independent documentarist, often treating conflicts confronting young people. His recent work has been televised on both ZDF and arte. In 1995-96 Sahling held a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) fellowship at Columbia College in Chicago and Northwestern University. One of the first films openly recognizing "punk" culture in East Germany, Sahling’s student film "If You Want to Live Like Me" made waves at the Leipzig Film Festival the year before the Berlin Wall came down.