In August 1992, the final curtain fell on East German filmmaking. Established in 1946, three years before the founding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) under the auspices of the Soviet Union, the state-sponsored film studio Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) produced around seven hundred films before being privatised and sold three years after German unification. Although the new owner of the Studio, Compagnie Immobilière Phénis Deutschland GmbH, was contractually obliged to honour the contracts of the DEFA’s remaining staff until 1994, DEFA’s filmmakers rarely achieved the domestic success in unified Germany that they had enjoyed prior to 1989 in the East.1 While the Studio’s final film, Novalis-The Blue Flower (Novalis-Die blaue Blume, Kipping), was produced in 1993, the Studio’s obituary was to all extents and purposes written in 2008 when the West German filmmaker, Volker Schlöndorff, who had been named studio director during the privatisation of DEFA, proudly stated,
I got rid of the name DEFA. DEFA films were terrible. In Paris, where I studied, they only played in Communist Party cinemas. We went there and laughed. The name had to disappear. At DEFA everything just trundled along. The Studio was on the edge and its employees had to learn to orient themselves to the customer.