Voigt, Peter

Peter Voigt


Peter Voigt was born in Dessau, Germany, on May 26, 1933, and spent his childhood in occupied Poland until 1945. He later described these years in the documentary Stein schleift Schere.

After graduating from high school in 1952, Voigt worked as an assistant stage designer at the Städtische Bühnen in Leipzig and, in April 1954, joined the Berliner Ensemble as Bertolt Brecht’s youngest assistant. He worked with Brecht and his team until the legendary theater director’s death in 1956; this collaboration shaped his artistic career. Voigt was also the personal assistant to theater directors Benno Besson and Peter Palitzsch and worked with composer Paul Dessau and choreographer and theater director Ruth Berghaus at the Berliner Ensemble.

In 1959, inspired by the Czech animation master, puppet maker and illustrator Jiří Trnka, Voigt became an illustrator and co-director at the newly-founded DEFA Studio for Animation Film in Dresden. In his two years there, he collaborated with animation director Lothar Barke and others. After a few years of freelancing as a television director, he became a co-director with the legendary documentary filmmakers Walter Heynowski and Gerhard Scheumann, who ran East Germany’s independent Studio H&S. As of 1969, the studio employed him as a director and writer and he was able to direct his own portraits, film essays and reports.

From the late 1970s to 1982, Voigt was involved in several exciting projects. He collaborated with director Konrad Wolf on his six-part documentary Busch singt, about the German political singer and actor Ernst Busch. Wolf died during shooting, and Voigt and Erwin Burkert finished the documentary. Voigt was also involved in the design of the Marx-Engels Forum in central East Berlin. Together with photographer Arno Fischer, he conceptualized the engraving of steles with images of worker’s movement history from international photo archives.

In 1983, Peter Voigt joined the DEFA Studio for Documentary Film, where he directed stylistically unconventional films until the studio closed in 1990. Most of the films that he produced in the 1980s were reflections on his own biography and important moments in German history. In his short Schlachtfelder, Voigt compares the battlefields of Verdun and Stalingrad and discusses the inhumanity of war. Other films also contemplate war, such as Knabenjahre (Silver Prize, International Film Festival Nyon, Switzerland), in which Voigt talks with four men of his own generation about their youth and education during the Third Reich. At the end of the 1980s, Voigt also teamed up with playwright and theater director Heiner Müller. Besides illustrating a few of Müller’s books, Voigt created and edited films for Müller’s stage productions.

As of 1990, Voigt started working as a freelance director and made some of his most important films, many of which focused on artists. In the three-part documentary Wieland Förster - Protokoll einer Gefangenschaft, the famous (East) German sculptor speaks for the first time about his devastating experiences as a teenager detained by a Soviet military court after WWII. Ich bin Ernst Busch follows the life of the artist, whom Voigt had met at the Berliner Ensemble and while shooting Busch singt. Finally, Dämmerung – Ostberliner Boheme der 50er Jahre offers a very personal view of some of Voigt’s artist-friends in a dynamic period of German history.

Throughout his career, Voigt always returned to the importance of his teacher, Bertolt Brecht. His films Eine Hinterlassenschaft, Theaterarbeit, Der Zögling, Episches Theater and Jawohl, Brecht are all contemplations of their relationship. His documentary project, Bertolt Brecht – Bild und Modell, also honors his mentor’s work and life. Peter Voigt returned to Brecht one more time in Brechts Regal. The film focuses on Brecht’s personal book collection, particularly on the handwritten notes in his books. Unfortunately, this film was not finished, as Peter Voigt passed away before it was done, on March 12, 2015.

Peter Voigt was married to film critic, journalist and columnist Jutta Voigt. The Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival presented a retrospective of Voigt’s films in 2013.



2014-15 Brechts Regal (Brecht’s Bookshelf, unfinished)
2012 Ton Steine Scherben (Clay Stones Fragments)
2010 Ikonen (Icons)
2006 Bertolt BrechtBild und Modell (Bertolt Brecht: Image and Model)
2004 Eine Hinterlassenschaft (A Legacy)
2003 Datum der 11. September 2001/1973 (Date: September 11, 2001/1973)
2002 Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening)
2000 Ich bin Ernst Busch (I’m Ernst Busch)
1998 Der Zögling (The Pupil)
1998 Jawohl, Brecht (Yes, Brecht)
1996 Bella Italia – Zuflucht auf Widerruf (Bella Italia: Refuge until Recall)
1996 Episches Theater (Epic Theater)
1994 Der Ort, die Zeit, der Tod (Place, Time, Death)
1992 Dämmerung – Ostberliner Boheme der 50er Jahre (DUSK: 1950s East Berlin Bohemia)
1992 Metanoia – Berichte deutscher Männer (Metanoia: Reports of German Men)
1991 Wieland Förster - Protokoll einer Gefangenschaft, 3 Teile (Wieland Förster: Record of a Captivity, 3 parts)
1990 Totengräber (Gravedigger)
1990 Wofür starb Dirk Boonstra (Why Did Dirk Boonstra Die?)
1989 Knabenjahre (Boyhood Years)
1988 Heiner Müller: Wolokolamsker Chaussee IV (Heiner Müller: Volokolamsk Chaussee IV)
1988 Heiner Müller: Der Lohndrücker (Heiner Müller: The Rate-Buster)
1986 Stein schleift Schere (Stone Sharpens Scissors)  
1985 Schlachtfelder (Battlefields)
1983 Stehend auf zwei Gäulen (Standing on two Horses)
1983 Fotografien (Photographs)
1982 Busch singt, Teile I & VI (Busch Sings, Parts I & VI)
1977 Konsequenz (Consequence)
1974 Theaterarbeit (Theater Work: Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble)
1974 Der goldene Strich (The Golden Line)
1972 Martha Lehmann
1970 Augenblicke für später (Moments for Later)
1970 Genosse Künstler (Comrade Artist)
1968 Novemberrevolution (November Revolution, TV)

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