Last Features is the story of forgotten films made during the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and German unification. With leftover GDR funds and under chaotic conditions, a group of mainly younger East German filmmakers produced approximately thirty stylistically diverse films that -- until recently -- few people ever saw. Lost in the political upheaval of the Wende, most of the films disappeared until the 2009 Wendeflicks festival in Los Angeles [co-curated by the author in conjunction with the DEFA film library] brought them back for an international audience. Now available on DVD, the films provide unique insights into the late GDR and German unification from the perspective of East German filmmakers, many of whom had few opportunities before or after the wall to realize their scripts. Topics include the generational struggle in the DEFA studio, the formation of the independent production group : "DaDaeR", East German youth culture in the 1970s, women directors at DEFA, the relationship between the artist and the state, and the protests of 1989. The book focuses in particular on the story of the creation of "DaDaeR" in 1989, which fulfilled a longstanding request by the last generation of DEFA directors for freer production conditions in the studio. Each of the six chapters focuses on specific films from the last year of DEFA and contextualizes the analysis of these last features" with a comprehensive discussion of the directors' overall oeuvre, of the historical changes in the studio and the country, and of the lasting importance of these films today. Last Features is the result of a decade of archival research and interviews with the directors, writers, and editors of the films in question. Reinhild Steingröver is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.
Subjects: Film Studies