Film Collections

The DEFA Film Library has three collections of East German and related films, each with different purposes and restrictions: a circulating collection available on DVD, a circulating collection available on 16- and/or 35mm, and a non-circulating research collection available on DVD and VHS. The complete lists of titles in each collection can be viewed by clicking on the respective links.

The circulating DVD collection contains almost 800 short and full-length films, as well as animated films and over 375 segments of the East German Eyewitness Newreel series (Der Augenzeuge). The collection is housed in the DEFA Film Library main offices in Herter Hall, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While most of the films in this collection are feature and documentary films made at East Germany's DEFA Film Studios in the former GDR, we also offer a number of titles which were made outside the GDR or were international collaborations.

  • Film Rentals: All the films in our Circulating DVD Collection may be rented by researchers and for classroom or non-commercial public screenings.
  • Store: Many of the more popular films in this collection are also available for sale on DVD.

Our circulating film print collection of almost 500 short and full-length films is housed at the Five College Repository, located in the former Cold War Bunker that was headquarters for the US Air Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The DEFA Film Library’s collection of film prints has now grown to almost 500 prints and have been screened at venues throughout North America, including: The Museum of Modern Art, the New York Jewish Film Festival and Anthology Film Archives in New York; the Harvard Film Archive and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Gene Siskel Film Center and Spertus Center in Chicago; the American Film Institute and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Toronto International Film Festival; the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio; Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut; Darkside Cinema in Eugene, Oregon; and Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, Washington.

  • Film Rentals: The majority of the prints in the DEFA Film Library collection are on long-term loan from the DEFA Foundation in Berlin; others were donated during the 1990s by the former GDR Embassy and U.S.-GDR Friendship Committee after German unification; and a final group were produced by the DEFA Film Library for special film screenings and events. These films may be rented for classroom or non-commercial public screenings. Please note: researchers may only view 16mm films on the premises and by prior arrangement.

The DEFA Film Library also houses a small (c. 280) collection of films on DVD and VHS for use by visiting researchers on the premises. Should you wish to arrange a research visit and would like to inquire about a specific title, please contact Kathryn Julian at

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