Herwig Kipping at the 2019 Leipzig Book Festival
Herwig Kipping was born in 1948 in Mayen, Germany. After graduating from high school, he apprenticed as a metal worker while working on his A-levels. In 1967, he became a student of mathematics at the Humboldt University in Berlin, but he dropped out shortly before his finals. As a student, Kipping developed an interest in the works of Georg Heym, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Charles Baudelaire, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and other writers and poets. Before serving in the military between 1972 to 1975, he earned his living as a railroad postal driver. He also wrote poems, though they remained unpublished.
In 1977, Kipping interned for the East German national television, where he worked as a production assistant for the director Thomas Langhoff, among others. From 1978 to 1982, he studied directing at the Filmhochschule in Potsdam-Babelsberg. His student film, Bahnpostfahrer (1979), about the ideas and emotions of a postal service worker, caused a sensation due to its exceptional aethetic style, but it was rarely screened after its premiere and earned him a reputation with the authorities as a troublemaker. His thesis film, Hommage à Hölderlin, received the 1987 Special Award at the International Film Week Mannheim. This short feature film debut attested Kipping’s exceptional and ingenious artistic talents.
After graduating from the film academy, Kipping returned to the television station, where he worked on Karl Stülpner oder Der Traum vom Fliegen (1983) and a short film about roofers, Sechs auf dem Dach. Protesting changes and edits made to Sechs auf dem Dach saw him expelled from the SED Party for “anti-socialist and oppositional activity.” Between 1984 and 1989, Kipping worked as a freelance scriptwriter. He regularly submitted scripts to the DEFA Studios, but none of them were accepted. Only one short film contribution to the DEFA Kinobox 44/1985 program was credited to his name as film director in the 1980s. At the same time, however, Kipping became a master student of filmmaker Heiner Carow (The Legend of Paul and Paula, Coming Out) at the East German Academy of Arts.
Finally, in 1992, 43-year-old Kipping premiered his first feature film, Das Land hinter dem Regenbogen, which he had been working on since 1986. This is one of only a few films that the newly founded artistic production group DaDaeR, a young filmmaker’s collective within the DEFA Studios, added to their production line. Critics called the allegorical and visually exception film, which is set in fictional East German town called Stalina during the 1953 workers’ uprising, the most radical condemnations of East Germany. Although the film was nominated for the 1992 Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, screened at the Berlin International Film Festival and awarded with the German Film Award in Silber for Best Feature Film, the film was forgotten until 2009. That year, it was screened as part of DEFA Film Library’s WENDE FLICKS: The Last Film from East Germany, a touring retrospective that premiered at LACMA. After this rediscovery, Das Land hinter dem Regenbogen was released on DVD with English subtitles.
His second and, as of yet, last feature film is Novalis – Die blaue Blume. This love story about the Romantic philosopher and author Novalis premiered two years after its completion in 1995. It is one of the last films carrying the DEFA logo before the DEFA Studios closed for good.
Since German unification, Kipping has written almost thirty scripts and has submitted them for film funding, but none of them have been granted support. He self-published one of the scripts, called Das Orpheusevangelium: Der Aufstand des Menschen, in 2018. From 2018 to 2020, Kipping’s poetry finally received an audience, also wrote and self-published several extensive poetry collections.
In 2014/15, Kipping again returned to the German writer Hölderlin and produced a full-length experimental film, Der obdachlose Hölderlin (2015). He also performed in this film, portraying the homeless writer Hölderlin as he searches for the meaning of life in times of ubiquitous media images, abuse of power, war, violence and destruction. Since 2021/22, Kipping has worked on a short film video series based on Hölderlin’s Hyperion; or The Hermit of Greece, which he released on his YouTube channel. The channel’s playlist also includes the short Erbarme dich (2021) and newly edited scenes from Der obdachlose Hölderlin.
Herwig Kipping lives in Berlin.
Bibliography & More:
- Kipping, Herwig. Das GottesGen der Freiheit. Self-published, 2020.
- Kipping, Herwig. Die Poesie der Freiheit. Self-published, 2020.
- Kipping, Herwig. Perversika. Die Totengesänge des Orpheus I und III. Self-published, 2019.
- Kipping, Herwig. Perversika. Die Totengesänge des Orpheus II. Self-published, 2019.
- Kipping, Herwig. Die Totengesänge des Orpheus. Self-published, 2018.
- Kipping, Herwig. Tanzende Schatten. Self-published, 2018.
- Kipping, Herwig. Das Orpheusevangelium: Der Aufstand des Menschen. Self-published, 2018.
- Kipping, Herwig. Thesis: Poesie und Film. Versuch über das Poetische anhand ausgewählter Beispiele von Sergej Eisenstein und Gábor Bódy. Potsdam-Babelsberg: Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Potsdam-Babelsberg, 1982.
|2022/23||Hyperion (series, shorts)|
|2022||S ist Krieg (It‘s War, short)|
|2021||Erbarme dich (Have Mercy, short)|
|2014/15||Der obdachlose Hölderlin (The Homeless Hölderlin)|
|1993||Novalis – Die blaue Blume (Novalis: The Blue Flower)|
|1991||Das Land hinter dem Regenbogen (The Land beyond the Rainbow)|
|1989||Liebe, Sex und Drogen (Love, Sex and Drugs)|
|1985||DEFA Kinobox 44/ 1985: Seid euch bewusst - Gedicht von Johannes R. Becher (DEFA Kinobox 44/1985: Be Aware - A Poem by Johannes R. Becher)|
|1984||Sechs auf dem Dach (Six on the Roof, TV, doc., short)|
|1983||Karl Stülpner oder Der Traum vom Fliegen (Karl Stülpner or the Dream of Flying, TV, doc., short)|
|1983/84||Hommage à Hölderlin (student film, short)|
|1981||Die Nebelschlucht (Misty Gorge, student film)|
|1980||Bahnpostfahrer (Railway Postal Driver, student film, short, doc.)|
|1978/79||Der Ball (The Ball, student film, short, doc.)|
|1978/79||Müllwagen 27 (Garbage Truck 27, student film, short, doc.)|