Since 2004, the DEFA Film Library has subtitled most of the German-language films it has released on DVD in-house. Since 2007, we have also been pleased to offer subtitling services, focusing on subtitling German- and French-language films for English-language audiences. Subtitling fees are calculated at $28 per minute, barring special arrangements. If you are interested in discussing our subtitling service, please contact us at

DEFA Film Library Releases: Supervised by a native German-speaker and a native English-speaker, graduate students in the German and Scandinavian Studies program at UMass Amherst learn to produce professional quality subtitles that capture the social, historical and regional nuances of the original films. This holds true for releases that range from comedies and musicals, to dramas and genre films.

Certain films present particular subtitling challenges. The film opera The Flying Dutchman (1964, dir. Joachim Herz), for example, required that subtitler Christopher Hench accommodate the musical structures of the Wagnerian opera, in addition to the images presented by the film. Victoria Rizo Lenshyn worked hard to capture the colloquial banter and light-hearted lyrics in Iris Gusner’s Bailing Out (1983). In subtitling the multilingual film Stars (1959, dir. Konrad Wolf), Jason Doerre had to call upon UMass faculty and students in other programs to translate the sections of the film spoken in Bulgarian, Ladino and Greek. Evan Torner managed the gargantuan task of preparing subtitles for the WENDE Flicks series in both DVD and 35mm formats.

Subtitling Services: Among the other films for which the DEFA Film Library has provided subtitles from the German, we are proud to have worked on six films produced for television by renowned director Michael Haneke: The Rebellion (1993), Who Was Edgar Allan? (1984), Lemmings – Parts 1 and 2 (1979), Fräulein (1986), Three Paths to the Lake (1976) and Variation (1983). These films were part of the groundbreaking series Michael Haneke—A Cinema of Provocation, which screened in 2007 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Harvard Film Archive.

The DEFA Film Library provides German-English subtitling services for the DEFA Foundation in Berlin. It also occasionally provides English subtitles for French-language films. The French Consulate in Boston, for example, commissioned English subtitles for two documentaries: Valère Novarina: What Cannot Be Spoken Is What Must Be Said (2002, dir. Raphaël O’Byrne), screened at MIT in 2008, and the arte production FRANCE Made in the USA (2007, dir. Bob Swaim) that was shown in the 2009 Consulate film series America Seen by Arte.

Praise for our subtitling services:

The DEFA Film Library is the leading institution in the U.S. in archiving, subtitling, and transferring German-language films to other media. Their expertise is essential to the livelihood of foreign cinema in North American and world markets.

 Roy Grundmann, Director, Film Studies Program, Boston University, Chief Curator, Michael Haneke: A Cinema of Provocation (2007)

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