Of the great documentarists of the 20th century, Joris Ivens (1898-1989) was one of the most important. He filmed on all five continents, putting his skills and art at the service of what he believed to be the only true cause: the liberation of mankind from colonial yoke, fascism, war and imperialism. In his films he was committed to the credo of his friend Brecht: "Change the world, it needs it." For about twenty years, Ivens' work was closely linked to the DEFA and the GDR. He realised five international projects for DEFA, including LIED DER STRÖME (1954), DIE WINDROSE (1956) and, together with actor Gérard Philipe, the first East German-French co-production DIE ABENTEUER DES TILL ULENSPIEGEL (1956).
He inspired and accompanied the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival from its founding until the late 1960s. He was loved and celebrated and was appointed professor and honorary doctor of the University of Leipzig. He was an honorary member of the Club of Filmmakers and the Association of Film and Television Professionals of the GDR, and a corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of the GDR. Until a rupture occurred which was never to heal again.
All in all, a now largely unknown chapter not only of his life, but also of the film and cultural history of the GDR, indeed of German history as a whole.
In his book, Günter Jordan creates a portrait of a fascinating person and artist, describes the production history of his DEFA films and examines their value and impact. From numerous previously unpublished or difficult to access documents, the picture of a committed man emerges who exemplified solidarity, humanity and friendship in a torn world. At the same time, Jordan's Ivens text proves to be a contribution to the discussion on the ethos of the committed documentarist and becomes a parable that reaches far beyond the historical events to the present day.
Günter Jordan, born 1941, studied Slavic studies, history and education, teacher, studied directing at the German Academy of Film Arts Potsdam-Babelsberg, director at the DEFA Studio for Documentary Films, freelance filmmaker since 1992. 1990 PhD at the Humboldt University Berlin on the early DEFA documentary film and the DEFA newsreel DER AUGENZEUGE.
Publications in magazines (Sonntag, Film und Fernsehen, BFF), Close Up (Konstanz), Ivens-Magazin (Nijmegen), in the yearbooks of the DEFA Foundation (Berlin 2000-2005) and in "Bilder einer gespaltenen Welt" (Berlin 2007); "Alltag des Dokumentarfilms 1946-1950" (Berlin 1987); "Erprobung eines Genres. DEFA documentaries for children 1975-1990" (Remscheid 1991), "'You see for yourself, you hear for yourself ... DEFA from its beginnings to 1949" (together with Christiane Mückenberger, Marburg 1994), "Black and white and colour. DEFA Documentaries 1946-1992" (with Ralf Schenk, Berlin 1996, 2000), "Film in the GDR. Daten Fakten Strukturen" (Potsdam 2009, 2013). "Back to the beginnings to get ahead. The birth of the new DEFA documentary film", in: Klaus Stanjek (ed.): "The Babelsberg School of Documentary Film", Berlin 2012.