DEFA: Division as Identity
Deutsche Film AG (a German film studio), DEFA for short, used to be the only film studio in the GDR. It was established in 1946, but had already been active since 1945 in Soviet studios taken from Germany, such as: Tobis, UFA, Tesch Und Afifa. Whoever worked on the production of nationalist films in the Third Reich was later employed by DEFA. It was only when east-German and east-Berlin film studios were opened that many filmmakers left DEFA or, until the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, they commuted to west Germany. Up until 1992 DEFA produced 700 feature films, 750 animated films, and over 2,000 documentary films, short- and full-length. The DEFA studio's film topics were in accordance with the topics most important in the GDR of the 1950s and 1980s. The GDR's statehood, development, lapses, and then its fall have been carefully documented in the DEFA film studios and they reflected the reality of that time. These materials have been considered exceptionally precious since the 90s by scientists and hobbyists, especially in the USA.
In today's research, the films of the DEFA studio, with their few copies and limited viewers, play a bigger part than the productions that are successful among audiences.
Photo: Peter Ziesche
Born in Berlin in 1949. Graduated from directing at the Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in Potsdam. In 1977 he started working as assistant director in GDR television, after which he worked for the DEFA film studio in the same capacity, to later become a director of feature films there. In 1985 he also started making documentary films at DEFA. Since 1991 he has been a freelance director. He has directed several dozen feature and documentary films, as well as theatre plays.