Indiana University Bloomington

Germanic Studies

Indiana University

College of Arts and Sciences

The Indiana University DEFA Project


For more information on the DEFA Dialogues, please see the IU Press release


In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, and Europe was changed forever. The symbol not only of a divided Germany and a divided continent, but also of a global war of ideologies, the Wall separated everything from family members to worldviews. In Germany and beyond politics and culture had adjusted to this architectural intervention in urban space, and following its removal, Easterners and Westerners alike had to shift their perceptions, goals, and pathways to accommodate the new realities of unification.

The East German Cinema of the DEFA Studios (1946-1992) was hit hard by the transition from a planned economy to capitalism and to the preferences of Western audiences, and many of its last films never had the reception they deserved. Today German cultural politicians are fighting to preserve memories of life in the German Democratic Republic, and films have become a major source of popular knowledge about the past. The Indiana University DEFA Project charts a critical return to these volatile years and the complex and largely unknown cinematic oeuvre that they left behind.

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