Richter, Erika


Erika Richter was born on January 6, 1938 in Aachen and grew up in Chemnitz, Germany. From 1956 to 1960, she studied drama theory at the Deutsche Hochschule für Filmkunst. After finishing a special course at the VGIK film academy in Moscow from 1961 to 1962, she was an editor for Filmwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, a quarterly insert in the periodical Deutsche Filmkunst. She then taught German at the GDR Cultural Center in Cairo, Egypt, from 1967 to 1969, before joining the Filmwissenschaftliche Beiträge team.


Richter developed scripts and worked as a dramaturg at the DEFA Studio for Feature Film from 1975 to 1991; 21 movies are credited to her name. She collaborated on important films with directors including Heiner Carow (Coming Out), Evelyn Schmidt (Das Fahrrad), Rainer Simon (Jadup und Boel), Jörg Foth (Biologie!) and Lothar Warneke (Die Beunruhigung). Whenever she could, she worked with and supported young filmmakers, such as Jörg Foth, Karl-Heinz Lotz (Rückwärtslaufen kann ich auch) and Herwig Kipping (Das Land hinter dem Regenbogen). She was particularly interested in films by women and contemporary stories with strong female characters. Richter also helped develop film projects that were stopped by the studio for political or other reasons, including Paule Panke, a film project by Heiner Carow and her husband, Rolf Richter; this was to be an adaptation of the 1982 rock musical about a day in the life of an apprentice and his experiences in a claustrophobic country by the East German rock bank Pankow.


As a film critic, Richter was especially interested in the cinemas of Eastern Europe and Africa, particularly Egypt. She passionately admired films by directors Helma Sanders-Brahms and Fred Kelemen for their innovative and experimental aesthetics. Richter generously shared her film expertise with colleagues and was involved in film programs at the Babylon and Arsenal cinemas in Berlin. From 1990 to 2004, she was on the selection committee for the Forum des Jungen Films (Young Film Forum) program at the Berlin International Film Festival and contributed to its informational materials. 


In 1992, after the death of her husband, the film historian Rolf Richter, Erika Richter took over publishing Film und Fernsehen magazine and kept it alive for the next decade. From 2000 to 2005, she co-edited the DEFA Foundation’s book series apropos: Film. Over the period of almost three year, from November 2001 to March 2004, she met regularly to converse with DEFA director Lothar Warneke for a book project; the resulting 2005 volume, Die Schönheit dieser Welt [The Beauty of This World], is an extensive and insightful conversation about the director’s life and films and the power of art. 


For her important contributions to (East) German cinema, she was awarded the Camera at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival and the DEFA Foundation’s Best Film Programming Award in 2012. In 2017, she collaborated with the DEFA Foundation on the collection Liebe zum Kino [In Love with the Movies], which gathers the most important texts she wrote during over more than half a century working in German and international cinema. Erika Richter passed away on August 24, 2020.

Festivals & Awards:

2012 Best Film Programming Award, DEFA Foundation Berlin
2003 Berlinale Camera, Berlin International Film Festival

Bibliography & More:

  • Richter, Erika. Liebe zum Kino. Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2017.
  • Richter, Erika. Gleichgewichtsübungen. Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2012.
  • Richter, Erika. Karot: Gespräche zur Filmkunst, Vergangenheit und Gegenwart Armeniens, Berlin: Art Combat Transnational, 2007. 
  • Richter, Erika. Die Schönheit dieser Welt. Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2005.
  • Richter, Erika. Helma Sanders-Brahms. Berlin: Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, 1998. 
  • Richter, Erika. Anti-Fascist Films. Munich: Goethe-Institut, 1992.
  • Richter, Erika. Realistischer Film in Ägypten. Berlin: Henschelverlag, 1974.


1991 Die Lügnerin (The Liar)
1991 Verfehlung (The Mistake)
1991 Das Land hinter dem Regenbogen (The Land beyond the Rainbow)
1990 Heute sterben immer nur die anderen (Nowadays Only the Others Die)
1990 Biologie! (Biology!)
1989 Die Besteigung des Chimborazo (The Ascent of Chimborazo)
1989 Rückwärtslaufen kann ich auch (I Can Run Backwards Too)
1988 Coming Out
1988 Die Schauspielerin (The Actress)
1987 Ich liebe dich – April! April! (I love You – Just Kidding!)
1986 So viele Träume (So Many Dreams)
1985 Blonder Tango (Blond Tango)
1984 Eine sonderbare Liebe (A Strange Love)
1984 Auf dem Sprung… (On the Way Out…)
1984 Weiße Wolke Carolin (White Cloud Carolin)
1983 Fariaho
1982 Die Schüsse der Arche Noah (Shots from Noah’s Ark)
1981 Das Fahrrad (The Bicycle)
1981 Die Beunruhigung (Apprehension)
1981 Jadup und Boel (Jadup and Boel)
1979 Seitensprung (Infidelity)

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