Banned Films

Censorship operated at various levels of the filmmaking process at the DEFA Studios. The role of the dramaturge was to help filmmakers develop scripts and films; at times this also involved helping them negotiate the demands of the administration and approval boards. In most cases, such behind-the-scenes work was successful. There were nevertheless recurrent cases of outright censorship and banning of films. Most of these cases involved individual titles (see Censorship below). In 1965, however, the Central Committee of East Germany’s ruling SED party abruptly changed its cultural policies, resulting in a wave of censorship in which all the feature films made at the DEFA Studio that year were banned. Referred to as the “rabbit films”—after the first one to be banned, The Rabbit Is Me—these twelve films (e.g., Born in ’45, Carla, Trace of Stones) were not publically screened until the Wall came down in 1989. 

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