Koepp, Volker


Volker Koepp was born in Stettin (now Szcecin, Poland) in 1944. He studied at the Technical University in Dresden from 1963 to 1965. In 1966, he entered the German Academy for Film in Potsdam-Babelsberg, where he obtained his diploma as a writer and film director in 1969. Koepp was a director at the DEFA Studio for Documentary Films from 1970 to 1991, and has been a freelance director, writer, and producer since then.


At the beginning of his career, Koepp mainly worked on shorts for the program Treffpunkt Kino and on portrait films featuring figures such as film director Slatan Dudow and Erich Weinert, a German political poet and agitator. In 1972, he filmed Grüße aus Sarmatien für den Dichter Johannes Bobrowski, painting a filmic picture of the writer’s landscapes. Over forty years later, Koepp revisited the area again and directed In Sarmatien. He interviewed young people and discussed current developments in Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova.


Koepp’s special affinity for this area and its people is reflected in many of his films, including Kalte Heimat and Frau Zwilling und Herr Zuckermann. The latter film, a sensible and poetic portrait of the last two German-speaking Jews living in Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), drew international attention and was awarded several prizes. Both films were photographed by the famed German cameraman Thomas Plenert, with whom Koepp has collaborated on many other films.


Volker Koepp likes to return to familiar places and, in his March Brandenburg Trilogy (1989-91), he revisited a brick factory in the little town Zehdenick and documented the life of workers over three years.


In 1974, Koepp and cameraman Christian Lehmann began an ambitious long-term project in Wittstock, focusing on the women workers at a textile factory. By 1997, they had made a total of seven films about Wittstock, an insightful observation of over twenty years of the daily lives of women in East Germany and the radical changes they had to face after the fall of the Wall.


Volker Koepp has directed over fifty documentaries and is one of Germany’s most internationally-celebrated documentary filmmakers. For many years, Koepp’s films have been part of prestigious international documentary film festivals, including Cinéma du Réel (Paris, France), Viennale (Vienna, Austria), and Visions du Réel (Nyon, Switzerland). 

Festivals & Awards:

1997 Arte Prize for Wittstock, Wittstock
1992 Golden Dove, Leipzig International Documentary and Animated Film Festival, for Neues aus Wittstock
1992 FIPRESCI Prize, Leipzig International Documentary and Animated Film Festival, for Neues aus Wittstock
1984 Silver Dove, Leipzig International Documentary and Short Film Week, for Leben in Wittstock
1984 GDR Film Critics Association Prize for Leben in Wittstock


2013 In Sarmatien (In Sarmatia)
2012 Livland (Livonia, TV)
2008 Memelland (Memel Territory, TV)
2007 Holunderblüte (Elder Blossom)
2007 Söhne (Sons)
2005 Pommerland (Pomerania)
2005 Schattenland – Reise nach Masuren (Shadowland: A Journey to Masuria)
2004 Dieses Jahr in Czernowitz (This Year in Czernowitz)
2001 Uckermark
2001 Kurische Nehrung (Courland Spit)
1999 Herr Zwilling und Frau Zuckermann (Herr Zwilling and Frau Zuckermann)
1997 Wittstock, Wittstock
1996 Fremde Ufer (Unknown Shores)
1995 Kalte Heimat (Cold Homeland)
1993 Die Wismut (The Wismut)
1992 Neues in Wittstock (News from Wittstock)
1991 Märkische Gesellschaft mbH (March Brandenburg, Inc.)
1990 Märkische Heide, märkischer Sand (March Brandenburg Heath, March Brandenburg Sand)
1989 Märkische Ziegel (March Brandenburg Bricks)
1987 Feuerland (Fire Land)
1985 An der Unstrut (On the Unstrut River)
1985 Afghanistan 1362 – Erinnerungen an eine Reise (Afghanistan 1362: Memories of a Journey)
1984 Leben in Wittstock (Life in Wittstock)
1978 Wittstock III
1976 Wieder in Wittstock (Back to Wittstock)
1976 Das weite Feld (The Wide Field)
1975 Mädchen in Wittstock (Wittstock Girls)
1975 Er könnte ja heute nicht schweigen (Even Today He’d Speak His Mind)
1974 Slatan Dudow – Ein Filmessay über einen marxistischen Künstler (Slatan Dudow: A Film Essay about a Marxist Artist)
1973 Gustav J.
1972 Grüße aus Sarmatien für den Dichter Johannes Bobrowski (Greetings from Sarmatia for the Author Johannes Bobrowski)

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