Two experts on East German cinema, Barton Byg and Ralf Schenk, discuss the international dimensions of German Democratic Republic filmmaking during the Cold War. Far from being trapped behind the Wall, East German films were screened around the world, including in the U.S., and won recognition at important international festivals. International exchanges took place through the film trade, co-productions, festivals, and international organizations such as the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), which made possible events such as the 1975 retrospective of East German cinema at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They will also examine the different perspectives of the two Germanys on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
Barton Byg teaches German and film studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he founded the DEFA Film Library in 1993 and was a founding faculty member of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies. He is the author of Landscapes of Resistance: The German Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, and his other published work on East German film have helped bring this cinema to the awareness of English-language scholars. In 2011, he was honored with the Reinhold Schünzel Award for his efforts in the preservation and restoration of German film.
Ralf Schenk is an internationally acknowledged authority on East German film and the Chairman of the DEFA Foundation. A film historian and journalist, he has authored and edited many key books and periodicals on East German cinema, and has participated in documentaries on post-WWII Eastern European and East German film history. He has served on the jury of the Berlin International Film Festival and worked on the reconstruction and restoration of "lost" East German films.
Recorded live Thursday, March 7, 2013 at the Spertus Institute.