EARTH DAY 2024 Free Stream, April 22-28

In celebration of Earth Day, we are happy to offer a FREE one-week stream of the short animation film Sunday (1989-90, dirs. Klaus Georgi, Lutz Stützner, 3 min.)!

Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival

This year’s festival will present the North American premiere of the DEFA Film Library program CHILEAN FILMS IN EXILE: SHORTS BY JUAN FORCH.

Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month and in anticipation of our streaming and upcoming DVD release, we are offering a free one-week preview stream of the documentary PAUL ROBESON: “I’M A NEGRO. I’M AN AMERICAN.”

2024 Programming Award

The DEFA Film Library launched a Programming Award in celebration of its 30th anniversary in 2023. This award of up to $1,000 will be offered annually for three years (2023-2025).

Screen + Stream in 2024

The DEFA Film Library will release the following newly digitized documentaries, feature and animation films in 2023-24. All titles will be available for educational streaming and rental. Stay tuned for the release dates.

If You Watched Oppenheimer, You Must See This Documentary

The DEFA Film Library will make the documentary FATHERS OF A THOUSAND SUNS (1989, dir. Joachim Hellwig) available for a free one-week stream from August 12-20.


The DEFA Film Library Turns 30!

This year marks our 30th anniversary! After signing a UMass Memorandum of Understanding, Prof. Barton Byg signed contracts with the German partners, thus marking the official founding of the DEFA Film Library. Here are some highlights of our 30th-anniversary program.

A Berlin Wall Piece on UMass Campus

UMass received a segment of the Berlin Wall painted by acclaimed French artist Thierry Noir, entitled “The Power of Creativity Over Concrete.” In the 1980s, Noir risked arrest by East German authorities by painting illicitly on the west side of the Wall, which was built 3 meters beyond the western border. In celebration of the installation of this Berlin Wall segment outside Memorial Hall, we invite you to an upcoming event series.



The holiday season is around the corner, and many of us are lured away from thoughts about quality time with family and friends by a season of sales. Retailers offer huge discounts, and our email accounts are flooded with deals and promotions. 


Our New Associate Director

The DEFA Film Library is extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Victoria Rizo Lenshyn will take up the reins as our new Associate Director on December 18, 2022.


We deeply mourn the loss of Ralf Schenk

The DEFA Film Library team is in mourning the loss of its long-time friend, advisor, supporter and collaborator, Ralf Schenk who passed away on August 17, 2022 at the age of 66, after a brief but grievous illness.


Ralf’s passion for the DEFA films crossed borders and he inspired audiences, researchers and film curators outside Germany. His outstanding film knowledge helped show that DEFA made important contributions to international film history in a wider historical context. 


We are pleased to welcome Black German director Branwen Okpako as our special guest at the 2022 German Studies Association conference in Houston, TX. There will be two possibilities to meet her.


ARTS NIGHT: The Visible Voice: The Films of Branwen Okpako

Thank you, Sky

Please join us in saying farewell and thank you to our Executive Director, Dr. Skyler J. Arndt-Briggs. With outstanding organizational skills and acumen, Sky has served the DEFA Film Library (DFL) in different capacities since 1998.


Part of the leadership team of the DEFA Film Library (DFL), the Associate Directorship is an alt-ac position that oversees operational, financial and compliance matters, while also contributing to DFL’s long-term academic and programming goals.

DEFA LIVE 2 with Alexander Donev

Join us for DEFA LIVE 2 with Alexander Donev, Bulgarian film scholar and publicist, on June 10th at 1 pm (ET)!


Alexander Donev (Research Fellow at the Institute of Art Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Professor at the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria) will go live with us to talk about THE FILMS AND LIFE OF SLATAN DUDOW: A NEW BIOGRAPHY IN THE MAKING. Our Academic Director Mariana Ivanova will interview him and translate live from Bulgarian into English. 


Virtual Summer Gallery

From June 13 to July 22 the DEFA Film Library will present a Summer Gallery on @defafilmlibraryamherst. This third virtual exhibit on Instagram will take a look at THE MAKING OF Bernd Sahling’s Film It’ll Be OK (1987-90), which documents the unique perspective of a punk who experiences two political systems in East and West Germany.


DEFA LIVE with Visiting Scholar Stephan Ehrig, April 28

Please join the DEFA Film Library for the first chat in its new Instagram series, DEFA LIVE, on @defafilmlibraryamherst


Monograph on Coming Out

Kyle Frackman (Univ. of British Columbia) has just published a volume on Heiner Carow’s 1989 DEFA film Coming Out, in the Camden House German Film Classics series. 


In the book, Frackman examines the creation, context and the national and international significance of the first and only East German feature film about homosexuality. The volume contains 35 color illustrations and is available in both paperback and Open Access formats. 



The festival started on Feb. 12 and our documentary "PAUL ROBESON: I’M A NEGRO, I'M AN AMERICAN” will close the festival on April 9—Paul Robeson’s birthday—with a hybrid (live and virtual) screening at Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA. The screening honors Paul Robeson (1898-1976) and 200 years of his Quaker Ancestors: the Bustill-Mapps-Douglass Family of Philadelphia.



NYU’s Deutsches Haus and the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst are collaborating on a 2-part virtual program, The Valor of the Misfit: Experimental Art in Late East Germany, which explores East Germany’s alternative art scene. In a conscious effort to bypass official structures controlling artistic production, this scene spanned painting, photography, literature, music and film. It also involved establishing private galleries and exhibition spaces to house an artistic emancipation movement that ultimately contributed to East Germany’s peaceful revolution of 1989.

The Films of Branwen Okpako

We invite contributions for a series of panels on Branwen Okpakos films for the 2022 GSA conference, Sept 15-18. Co-sponsored by the Black German Heritage & Research Association (BGHRA) and the DEFA Film Library, these panels seek to explore the range of stories and rich imagery in the films of this groundbreaking director.

Alexander von Humboldt in the Americas

Join us for two virtual events with Sandra Rebok about the 19th-century Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt!

DEFA Essential Collection
August 30, 2021

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the DEFA Studios in 2021, Kanopy launched the DEFA Essential Collection, featuring 25 newly-restored classics. Take advantage of their special offer starting August 30!

2024 Prize for Graduate Student Essay

Deadline: September 1, 2024.  This annual prize is awarded for the best graduate student essay on East German cinema, along with a cash award of $500 from the Founder’s Fund for Student Researchers.


On May 16, 1946 the founding of the DEFA Studio in the Soviet Occupation Zone got official approval. In 2021, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of this occasion with a wide range of new programs and resources!

The Right-Wing East?

A Film+Talk event March 22-25 that looks at right-wing tendencies and trends in (East) Germany, then and now. REGISTER NOW!


The fifth in our line of teaching guides to help teachers incorporate selected DEFA films into their classes! Our Teaching Guide #5 for Trace of Stones was developed by Juliane Wuensch (Skidmore College). 

The teaching guides are supported by the DEFA-Stiftung, Berlin.


Welcome to FILMBOX, our free Digital Teaching Archive on Vimeo that is perfect for teachers, students and programmers!


Black Lives in Germany
Reframing Diversity in German Cinema

EVENT II - November 5, 2020. A discussion with director Sheri Hagen and hosts Rosemarie Peña and Kevina King about reframing diversity in German cinema and Hagen's film At Second Glance.

Black Lives in Germany
Audre Lorde, May Ayim and the Black German Movement

Event I - October 22, 2020. Audre Lorde, May Ayim and the Black German Movement. A webinar discussion with director Dagmar Schultz and author Ika Hügel-Marshall. Moderated by Sara Lennox and hosted by curator Kevina King (both UMass Amherst).

Black Lives in Germany
Performance and History

PERFORMANCE & HISTORY. Event V - April 8, 2021. A webinar discussion with actor and director Lara-Sophie Milagro and dancer and poet Lauren Cox. Moderated by Dr. Jamele Watkins (UMN).

Black Lives in Germany
Black Stories and Diaspora

BLACK STORIES & DIASPORA. Event IV - March 11, 2021. REGISTER NOW! A virtual discussion with director Branwen Okpako about The Education of Auma Obama and her other films, representing 20 years of filming stories about Black German lives and experiences. Moderated by historian Tiffany N. Florvil.

Black Lives in Germany
Black Spaces / Black Voices

BLACK SPACES / BLACK VOICES. Event III - Feb. 11, 2021. A virtual discussion with well-known actor and founder of Panthertainment, Tyron Ricketts, and filmmaker Denise Ekale Kum. Moderated by activist Jeff Kwasi Klein.

Celebrate Beethoven’s Birthday!

2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven. An untiring compositional innovator, Beethoven was a crucial figure in the transition from the classical to the romantic era in classical music. Afflicted with increasing deafness as of his early 30s, he was also a difficult person and suffered personal and social hardships.


DEFA Film Library Endowment

In February 2019, Founding Director Barton Byg officially established the DEFA Film Library Endowment, as a means to support and enhance the mission and activities of the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst. In March 2019, he shared some of his thoughts on this important step.

Art & Power: Lutz Dammbeck

In September 2019, German director and media artist Lutz Dammbeck will be our artist-in-residence guest and tour the USA with 18 of his documentaries and animation films, which we will make available for rental and educational streaming. Art & Power: Lutz Dammbeck is part of the Deutschlandjahr USA program.

Screened Encounters
September 2018

We are pleased to announce the publication of the first volume of our new book series on Film and the Global Cold War



The first major solo exhibition in the U.S. by German graphic artist Anke Feuchtenberger. Curated by UMass MFA student Bibiana Medkova, selected works by Feuchtenberger was on display at the Olver Design Building at UMass Amherst from June 26 through July 13, 2018.


DEFA Film Library turns 25!

We’d like to celebrate our 25th anniversary with you! PLEASE JOIN US! The first 25 people to contact us about screening one of our films at their cinema, cultural institution, university or college in 2018 will get 25% off our regular screening fee!

SCMS 2016 Atlanta
2016, Goethe Zentrum Atlanta

In the GDR social satire When You're Older, Dear Adam, a boy finds a flashlight that makes people float when they lie. Goethe Zentrum Atlanta hosted this DVD premiere during the 2016 SCMS conference.

Angel Wagenstein Duo
2017, New York Jewish Film Festival

Screenwriter and novelist Angel Wagenstein is the link between two films to be screened by the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, the DEFA Film Library and Amherst Cinema, April 11-12, 2018. 

21 Restored Films: Now on DCP
2016, DEFA Film Library, UMass Amherst

As efforts to restore classic DEFA films are in full swing at the DEFA Foundation in Berlin, our collection of restored titles on DCP is keeping up with the newest movie theater technology!

Germany 66: Cinema East / West
2016, Museum of Modern Art, New York

From April 5-16, 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC screened films released in 1966 in both East and West Germany. Four DEFA films were part of this  series that compared different cinematic responses to national and international events and topics.


Flashback: DEFA Turns 70!
2016, DEFA Film Library, UMass Amherst

On May 17, 1946, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany granted a license to the DEFA (Deutsche Film-AG) Studio for the production of films. Only five months later the first DEFA film, The Murderers Are among Us (dir. Wolfgang Staudte), premiered in Berlin and won international recognition—the first German film made after WWII.


Gerd Kroske: Drawing a Line
2015, Amherst Cinema Center

On Dec. 13, 2015, director Gerd Kroske presented the US premiere of his film Drawing a Line at Amherst Cinema. 

2016, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The long-awaited restoration of Heiner Carow’s The Russians Are Coming (1968/87) was screened as part of the Musuem of Modern Art festival To Save and Project on November 3 and 7, 2016.

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