East Germany’s film monopoly, Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA), produced a breadth and depth of films ranging beyond simple propaganda to westerns, science fiction films, musicals, melodramas, spy thrillers, women’s films, fairy tales, and children’s films.

In the fall of 2013 the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst, which was officially founded on September 23, 1993 was celebrating their 20th anniversary. The DEFA Film Library is the only archive and research center outside of Germany devoted to a broad spectrum of filmmaking from and related to the former GDR.

Elsewhere in the U.S., other events where commemorate the DEFA Film Library’s anniversary with the “20@20” tour,
which presented films from the Library’s collection in 20 cities nationwide, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC. and Portland.

For Eyes Only Film Poster   DEFA 2020 Logo

During the German Film Festival 2013, we screened the film: For Eyes Only – Top Secret which had opened in July of 1963, nine-and-a-half months after James Bond’s Dr. No premiered in London. At the time, some thought the East German film was a response to the British film’s glamorous portrayal of the life of a secret agent, but the DEFA had been preparing the film for at least two years before its release.  The DEFA film was extremely popular in East Germany.

If you are interested in learning more about the DEFA and their history, check out the book East German Cinema by Sebastian Heiduschke.

The German Film Festival will continue to show DEFA films!