GDR, 1990, 89 min, color
In German; English and German subtitles
Assistant Director
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)
Special Effects
Production Company


In a small East German town shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ulla, a sensitive and principled 10th-grader, meets computer-obsessed Winfried, son of a chemical plant manager. On a field trip with her biology class, Ulla discovers that a trout farm and weekend homes are being built illegally in a local conservation area. The situation gets complicated when she discovers that Winfried’s family is responsible. She nevertheless passionately agitates to stop the construction project, even soliciting Winfried to help her create a touched-up photograph of a rare bird as "evidence" that the conservation area is home to an endangered species. When Ulla's deception is discovered, she faces serious consequences.


Biology! was one of very few East German feature films to address environmental issues. The topic was taboo in the GDR and all data on environmental damages was classified. In the 1980s, grassroot activists nevertheless began a vigorous environmental movement.


2021 East Day Film Festival, Goethe-Institut Boston
1990 East Berlin National Film Festival


Press comments

“A story that severely critiques injustice, opportunism and moral cowardice.”   —


“A film about the difficulty of finding one’s identity in the midst of a deteriorating ideological system.”   —Potsdam Film Museum


“A different take on generational conflict and the ability to exercise civil courage.”    —Zwischen Marx and Muck 


“A portrait of the ailing social system of the GDR that balances between satirical and unintended exaggeration.”   —


“The film was not influenced by changing events, but [now] meets a completely changed reality.”   —Ina Lemme, Für Dich, 1990


“An eco-drama critiquing the GDR.”   — Neues Deutschland






Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • “Activism to Protect Species and Speech in Jörg Foth’s Biology!” by Reinhild Steingröver (Univ. of Rochester)
  • “Life’s Little Ironies. Interview with Jörg Foth,” by Hiltrud Schulz (DEFA Film Library)
  • Biology! 93rd Film of the Babelsberg Production Group,” by former DEFA Chief Dramaturg Dieter Wolf
  • Timeline of GDR Environmentalism       
  • Teaching Guide, by Victoria Rizo Lenshyn (Arizona State Univ.)

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