Do You Know Urban?

(Kennen Sie Urban?)

GDR, 1971, 95 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


After he gets out of jail, Hoffi is looking for a fresh start. He wants to find Urban, a role model of sorts that he met during a brief hospital stay. Along the way, Hoffi meets a young woman, Gila, who is willing to overlook his past. Despite her family’s disapproval, Gila decides to build a life with Hoffi, but initially he balks at the responsibility. Thanks to the encouragement of his brigade members, Hoffi realizes his mistake and decides to give his relationship with Gila a chance.


Director Ingrid Reschke, one of very few female directors working at the DEFA Studio for Feature Film, and author Ulrich Plenzdorf based the script on 1960s news reports, as a way to address social problems including hooliganism, housing shortages and issues faced by children of single parents. This impressive portrait of young workers on large GDR construction sites was shot mainly on location and in Totalvision—East Germany’s version of CinemaScope. The black-and-white film follows in the tradition of DEFA “Berlin films” of the 1950s and 1960s, depicting Berlin as a tolerant, cosmopolitan city.


2019 Self-Determined: Perspectives of Women Filmmakers retrospective, Berlin International Film Festival
2018 Images of the Future: The Cinema of East Germany, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Press comments

 “Ingrid Reschke paints an authentic picture of the period in East Germany that followed the ’68 movement.”   —Grit Lemke, Junge Welt


“This is the first film since Berlin – Schönhauser Corner, many years ago now, to deal with the problems of young people. They search for role models and find them; they search for Urban and find themselves.”   —Günter Sobe, Berliner Zeitung


“The film is a story about the journey from a young dropout who turns into a true GDR citizen. It is also a vivid portrait of society, however, a window onto a lower class and the awareness that there are lower classes. It is also a beautifully told love story. And it is a character portrait of a man caught between two options, who can’t and won’t make a decision.”   —Harald Mühlbeyer,


“It looked as if Reschke would have a long and productive career at DEFA, when—like the Russian director Larisa Shepitko—she died in a car crash much too young (Reschke was 35, Shepitko was 41). At the time, she was just starting work on her next project—a film about a love affair between an unmarried woman with children and an unhappily married man. After her death, Ulrich Plenzdorf—one of the screenwriters for Do You Know Urban?—went on to make the film. That film was The Legend of Paul and Paula, and it went on to become the most-loved film in East German cinema history.”   —Jim Morton,



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