Counter Images: GDR Underground Films 1983-1989


Germany, n/a, 90 min, color
In German; English subtitles


A selection of ten Super-8 films made between 1983 and 1989 by young East German artists, musicians, performers and writers, who produced their films outside official channels. Many of the directors in this collection – such as Helge Leiberg, Via Lewandowsky, and Cornelia Schleime – have now become leading figures in the international art world.


This collection includes the following titles:

  • action situation (Leiberg, 1983)
  • 7x7 Facts about the Present Life of the Poet Tohm die Roes (di Roes, 1983)
  • Samuel (Klauß, 1984)
  • Little Angel (Frydetzki, 1985)
  • Necrology (Löser, 1985)
  • September, September (Hahnemann, 1986)
  • Draped in White (Schleime, 1987)
  • Report - A Comment on a Comment (Lewandowsky, 1987)
  • Hello, Berlin (Werner, 1987)
  • Konrad! The Mother Said (Köppel-Welsh, 1989)


In a country where all art and access to art materials was subject to state control, the Super-8 film format provided underground artists with a new form of expression. This was especially important in the rigid political climate that followed the 1976 expatriation of singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann. As the bonus film The Subversive Camera makes clear, the Stasi paid close attention to such Super-8 films and to the underground artists’ scene.


The specific titles included in this collection were selected by film historian Claus Löser from a collection of almost 130 films archived at the Berlin-based ex. oriente. lux.

Press comments

“It's amazing (and gratifying) to realize that such 'subversive' films were made in the GDR.”
— Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art


“Films of great originality and aesthetic achievement. These films present an important alternative to studio-produced images and provide a unique glimpse of a different GDR reality.”
— Reinhild Steingröver, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester


“Great material from the pre-Wende era. GDR underground cinema was created in the sub-scenes’ biotope, on the edge of painting and writing.”


Buy the DVD
DVD Bonus Features:
  • The Subversive Camera, dir. Cornelia Klauß, Germany, 1997, 42 min.
  • Artist Biographies
  • About the ex.oriente.lux. archive

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