DEFA fairy tales and films about Native Americans - who does not know them? And yet they eke out a shadowy existence in film studies apart from individual studies. One reason for this may be that considerations of genres are primarily dominated by Hollywood cinema and often refer exclusively to a cinema culture in market mechanisms. Possibly, however, the reasons for the film-historical neglect of the DEFA genre film go back much further and have to do with the skepticism with which the film directors of the GDR once encountered genres such as the musical or the science fiction film. Did DEFA really have genre cinema in the film-scientific sense? What international connections can be discovered? Did the DEFA genre film even achieve something completely independent, which was only possible at that time and in that place?
Genre cinema allows diverse and new perspectives on 40 years of DEFA film history. Directors who have been overlooked in film historiography reappear with their work from the often unjustified "oblivion". The films enable references to other cinematographies, indeed to cultural history in general. Last but not least, thinking about genres as "means of communication" encourages reflection on the ambivalent relationship between state mandate, production and audience in the course of DEFA film history.
With texts by Günter Agde, Guido Altendorf, Stefanie Mathilde Frank, Mila Ganeva, Andreas Kötzing, Claus Löser, Olaf Möller, Ralf Schenk, Georg Seeßlen, Wolfgang Thiel, Fabian Tietke, Anett Werner-Burgmann, Hans J. Wulff, Barbara Wurm, and a foreword by Stefan Kolditz.
Ralf Schenk, Dr. h.c., wrote his first film review at the age of 17, studied journalism and worked for the magazines "Film und Fernsehen" and "Die Weltbühne" as well as at the Potsdam Film Museum. The history of DEFA became his special subject. His interest in GDR film art lies in the tension between politics and art, subject and form, cosmopolitanism and provincialism. As an author and editor he was responsible for more thantwenty books, for example on DEFA feature film (1994), DEFA documentary film (1996), DEFA animated film (2003), on actors, directors and critics. He restored banned films, was a member of the Berlinale selection jury and headed the DEFA Foundation in Berlin from 2012 to 2020. Even in retirement, he is active as a book and magazine author and critic.
Stefanie Mathilde Frank, Dr. phil., studied Theater Studies/Cultural Communication and Cultural Studies/Aesthetics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Music and Media Studies until 2020, after receiving her PhD there in 2015 with a study on remakes of films from the National Socialist era (published in 2017: "Wiedersehen im Wirtschaftswunder"). She is also an honorary editor of the "Filmblatt" and, together with Frederik Lang, curator of the "Wiederentdeckt" series at the Zeughauskino (DHM), as well as an examiner at the "Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehwirtschaft" (FSF). Since 2020, she has been an academic councilor at the Institute for Media Culture and Theater at the University of Cologne.