UMass Amherst Formalizes Partnership With German Company to Distribute East German Films Worldwide

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts has signed a licensing agreement with a German company, ICESTORM International, LLC, for the usage of University trademarks in connection with the worldwide marketing of productions of the former East German film studios DEFA.

An event celebrating both this agreement, and the grand opening in Northampton, Mass., of the offices of ICESTORM International, the newly formed American subsidiary of ICESTORM Entertainment GmbH, will take place Mon., Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m. at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton. Representatives of the Massachusetts Office of Trade and Investment in Berlin, the General Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany, the DEFA Film Library at UMass, and University Chancellor David K. Scott are expected to attend.

The DEFA Film Library at UMass is the only archive of its kind outside of Europe. It contains a major portion of the output of the DEFA Film Studios. Spanning the years from 1946 to the 1990s, this body of films represents Europe’s largest cohesive national cinema collection. ICESTORM International has the worldwide home entertainment rights to this archive and plans the international distribution of up to 40 multilingual subtitled films out of Massachusetts per year. The company projects revenues of about $4 million from this output in 1999.

ICESTORM will work in conjunction with the UMass DEFA Film Library: the University will offer its scholarly expertise in educational materials to accompany the films, and ICESTORM products will carry a University trademark, with proceeds to benefit the UMass College of Humanities and Fine Arts. "This initiative - to combine the marketing of German culture worldwide with faculty efforts at a leading university - is unparalleled," says UMass German professor Barton Byg, director of the DEFA Film Library. "Not only will it serve scholars and students, it will also benefit the Massachusetts economy."

ICESTORM International will launch its grand opening with the introduction of 25 titles, including new English-subtitled versions of many DEFA classics, transferred onto the North American video standard. "The year 1999, being the 50th anniversary of the founding of two German states and the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, is our opportunity to introduce these undiscovered film treasures to a worldwide audience," says Hiltrud Schulz, managing director of ICESTORM. "This library of films from the GDR, the vanished country which stood as the symbol for the Cold War, will tell stories which will help us to see our century from a different perspective."

Berlin Governing Mayor Eberhard Diepgen and Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci will have an opportunity to discuss the economic implications of ICESTORM for Massachusetts during their scheduled meeting at the State House in Boston Tues., Dec. 15.

NOTE: The Calvin Theatre event is by invitation only, but it is open to reporters.