Carow, Heiner


Heiner Carow was born in Rostock, Germany on September 19, 1929. When he was 21, he applied to DEFA’s Studio for Young Talent and studied directing with Slatan Dudow and Gerhard Klein, among others.


Carow debuted with short documentaries made at the DEFA Studio for Popular Science Films. His last film at this studio, Martins Tagebuch, a portrait of a boy and his dreams, was awarded the Golden Dove at the Leipzig International Festival for Documentary and Animated Films in 1956. This success drew Carow to the attention of the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. In 1957, he directed his first feature film there, Sheriff Teddy, a story about kids in Berlin. He later directed many feature films for children and young people, which often focused on young people in conflict with older generations and society.


Carow directed some of East Germany’s most important feature films. His 1968 semi-autobiographical film Die Russen kommen—the story of a young boy obsessed with Hitler’s victory set in the last days of WWII—was banned for being contaminated with modernism and for lacking an antifascist hero, and was not released until 1987. Die Legende von Paul und Paula, the Prenzlauer Berg love story of a single mother, became an unparalleled success and is still an extremly popular cult movie. In 1978, the heated debate among functionaries about whether to release Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet, a frank portrayal of a troubled marriage, stirred up so much public curiosity that the film was finally released and highly acclaimed by audiences and critics. Carow also directed Coming Out, the only East German feature film dealing with being gay in a prejudiced society; the film premiered the evening the Berlin Wall opened on November 9, 1989, later winning the Silver Bear and Teddy Award at the 1990 Berlin International Film Festival. It screened at many prestigious international LGBTQ festivals, including in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and St. Petersburg.


Carow’s penchant for creating films that candidly reflected everyday life in socialism often put him in the crosshairs of East German authorities. Two of his projects were never realized: Simplicius Simplicissimus, an adaptation of Franz Fühmann’s picaresque novel; and Paule Panke, an adaptation of the 1982 rock musical by the East German cult rock bank Pankow about a day in the life of a young apprentice and his experiences in a claustrophobic country.


After Germany was united in 1990, Carow continued working, mainly directing TV movies and series, often collaborating with his long-time colleagues, the scriptwriters Wolfgang Kohlhaase (Begräbnis einer Gräfin) and Ulrich Plenzdorf (Vater Mutter Mörderkind).


One of the foremost directors of East Germany, Heiner Carow, who was married to film editor Evelyn Carow, died on January 31, 1997. Since 2013, the DEFA Foundation has awarded the Heiner Carow Prize to selected German fictional, essay, or documentary films shown in the Panorama program of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Festivals & Awards:

1990 Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival for Coming Out
1990 Teddy Award, Berlin International Film Festival for Coming Out
1990 Best Director, GDR Feature Film Festival in Berlin for Coming Out
1990 Critic's Prize for Film, Association of German Critics, Berlin Academy of Arts for Coming Out
Konrad Wolf Prize of the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts for Coming Out
1988 Best Director, GDR National Feature Film Festival, Karl-Marx-Stadt, for Die Russen kommen
1967 Heinrich Greif Prize, Class 1, for Die Reise nach Sundevit


1996 Fähre in den Tod (Ferry to Death, TV)
1995 Kanzlei Bürger (Bürger Law Office, TV series)
1995 Praxis Bülowbogen (The Doctor’s Office on Bülowbogen, TV series)
1993 Vater Mutter Mörderkind (Father Mother Murderchild, TV)
1992 Verfehlung (The Mistake)
1991 Die Verfehlung (The Mistake)
1991 Begräbnis einer Gräfin (Funeral of a Countess, TV)
1989 Coming Out
1986 So viele Träume (So Many Dreams)
1980 Pugowitza (Pugovitsa, script)
1978 Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet (Until Death Do Us Part)
1975 Ikarus (Icarus)
1972 Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul und Paula)
1970 Karriere (Career)
1968/87 Die Russen kommen (The Russians Are Coming)
1965 Jeder hat seine Geschichte (Everybody Has Their Own Story, TV, short)
1965 Die Reise nach Sundevit (The Journey to Sundevit)
1963 Die Hochzeit von Länneken (The Laenneken Wedding)
1959 Das Leben beginnt (Life Begins)
1958 Sie nannten ihn Amigo (They Called Him Amigo)
1957 Sheriff Teddy
1956 Martins Tagebuch (Martin’s Diary, short, doc.)
1954 Die Wette gilt (The Bet Is On, short, doc.)
1953 Ein Schritt weiter (One Step Further, short, doc.)

Shibboleth login