Günther, Egon


Egon Günther was born in Schneeberg, Germany, on March 30, 1927. He apprenticed as a locksmith and was briefly a soldier during WWII before being captured in 1945. He was a prisoner of war in Holland before managing to escape. After WWII, he studied pedagogy, German, and philosophy at the University of Leipzig, after which he worked as a teacher and editor, while writing and publishing poems and novels.


Günther began work as a dramaturg and screenwriter at the DEFA Studios in 1958. By 1964 he was directing screenplays written by himself and his (then) wife, Helga Schütz, including Lots Weib. His films were mainly about contemporary life, but he also directed literary adaptations. With Lotte in Weimar he started a series of films about Goethe, which he only completed much later with Die Braut.


Günther was increasingly beset with political difficulties and several of his films were censored. He finally decided to leave for West Germany in 1978, after his television film Ursula gained little favor with the East German officials. In West Germany, he mainly worked in television. He returned to DEFA at the end of 1989 to make Stein and to reconstruct his film Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam, which had been banned before its final production in 1966.


Critics describe Egon Günther as an avant-gardist of East German cinema, who was known for stylistically sophisticated films that could compete with international productions. Günther also taught at the Konrad Wolf Film University Potsdam-Babelsberg and at the Film Academy in Munich. In 1999, he was awarded the German Film Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Günther, who died on August 31, 2017, was the author of many poems, novels and stories.

Festivals & Awards:

2002 Lifetime Achivement Award, DEFA-Stiftung
1999 German Film Prize for Lifetime Achievement
1985 Morenga, Nominated for Golden Bear, Berlin International Film Festival
1975 Lotte in Weimar, Nominated for Palme d'Or, Cannes film Festival
1972 Crystal Globe for Der Dritte, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival


2001 Bronnen – Was für ein chaotisches Leben (Bronnen – A Chaotic Life, doc., TV)
1999 Die Braut (The Mask of Desire)
1999 Else – Geschichte einer leidenschaftlichen Frau (Else – Story of a Passionate Woman, TV)
1997 Danny und Britta (Danny and Britta)
1992 Lenz (TV)
1991 Stein
1988 Rosamunde
1988 Heimatmuseum  (Local History Museum, TV)
1985 Morenga (TV)
1981 Exil (Exile, TV)
1978 Ursula (TV)
1976 Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
1975 Lotte in Weimar (Lotte in Weimar)
1973 Erziehung vor Verdun (Education before Verdun, TV)
1972 Die Schlüssel (The Keys)
1971 Der Dritte (Her Third)
1970 Junge Frau von 1914 (Young Woman of 1914, TV)
1968 Abschied (Farewell)
1966/90 Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam (When You're Older, Dear Adam)
1965 Lots Weib (Lot’s Wife)
1964 Alaskafüchse (Alaska Foxes)
1961 Das Kleid (The Robe)
1960 Silvesterpunsch (New Year’s Eve Punch, dramaturg)

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