Why is there so much importance attached to films?

Everyday culture in East Germany

Dagmar Schittly

To person

Dr. phil., born 1967; Studied political science, psychology and linguistics in Heidelberg and Bonn; Speaker and freelance writer and translator.

Address: Bl├╝cherstr. 9 A, 53115 Bonn.
e-mail: [email protected]

Publication including: Between director and regime. The film policy of the SED in the mirror of DEFA productions, Berlin 2002 (www.linksverlag.de).

The film enjoyed a high status in the GDR. Accordingly, the filmmakers and, above all, the only state-owned film company, DEFA, were subject to constant surveillance.


The article is based on the author's dissertation: Between Direction and Regime. The SED's film policy in the mirror of DEFA productions, Berlin 2002.

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  • About a decade after German reunification, is it worth dealing with the film heritage of a lost state? Or, as the GDR director Egon G├╝nther asked in "Die Zeit": "Is it worth it to get a handful of old, damn beautiful DEFA films from the cellar?" [1]

    It certainly does. Because hardly any other medium than film reflects social realities more directly and more promptly, nowhere else can collective experience be better understood, and hardly any other art form gives more views of people's everyday lives. Accordingly, there is also increasing research into the film system of the GDR, which as a closed research area can provide many kinds of information, especially the relationship between politics and culture. The preparation of the numerous files and materials - from the Politburo to the Ministry for State Security - by foundations and archives makes a significant contribution to shedding light on the genesis of art and culture in the GDR.