2006 0-7734-5684-8 Some of the most successful and controversial East German films were produced during the 1970s, many of which featured a female protagonist. These films about women – directed almost exclusively by men – were in many respects so unique to the DEFA (the state sponsored East German film corporation) as to constitute a specific genre: the DEFA Frauenfilm (women’s film). Why did the female role under socialism hold such an attraction for the filmmakers?
Drawing on mostly unpublished archive materials, the author traces how the ideological discourse regarding the depiction of women in the cinema changed in response to international political developments, national trends and cultural policies.
In the first major study in English of women on the East German screen, the author argues that these women’s films did not merely challenge assumptions and desires regarding women as women, but that they became vehicles to critically represent the relationship between the individual and society in the GDR.
A close reading and contextualized analysis of eight representative Gegenwartsfilme (films engaged in the social reality of everyday life in the contemporary GDR) is employed to establish the significance of the female DEFA protagonist – essential for any discussion of East German cinema as a part of German film history.