30 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall - DEFA Classics Revisited

Venue: Louis Koo Cinema, Hong Kong Arts Centre 
Date: 2019.01.10 - 2019.01.13
Price: Ticket prices: $75/$60*; Screening of The Legend of Paul and Paula and Lecture on DEFA: $95/$76*; Tickets package (includes 1 ticket of all films and the lecture): $375 

Freedom Inside the Walls

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Goethe-Institut Hongkong and the Hong Kong Arts Centre present a series of East German film classics. The German Democratic Republic (GDR)’s Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) was founded as a state-owned film studio that produced films to educate former Nazis to become good socialists after the defeat of Germany in the Second World War. However, while DEFA officially produced

heroic propaganda films, there were also directors, with their distinct styles and methods of storytelling, creating an impressive body of works that took a critical gaze at the GDR government and society. German film expert Christina Schmidt on DEFA films will introduce the complex political and cultural backgrounds of East German filmmaking in that era, and how those filmmakers created new visions and realms of possibilities.


Screening Schedule
10/1 (Thu)  7:30pm   Trace of Stones (Spur der Steine)
11/1 (Fri)    7:30pm   Her Third (Der Dritte)
12/1 (Sat)   3:00pm   The Legend of Paul and Paula (Die Legende von Paul und Paula) + Lecture on DEFA
12/1 (Sat)   7:30pm   Solo Sunny
13/1 (Sun)  2:00pm   Apprehension (Die Beunruhigung)
13/1 (Sun)  4:45pm   Herzsprung
*ALL with introduction and after-screening talk.


Tickets available at URBTIX:
Opening Film: Trace of Stones (Spur der Steine) (Also screening: Outer Space and the Everyday: A Short Biography of DEFA)
Director: Frank Beyer
East Germany | 1965/1966 | 138' | In German with English subtitles | DCP | B&W
Won FIPRESCI Prize - Honorable Mention, Berlinale 1990
10/1 (Thu) 7:30pm*
*Screening with: Outer Space and the Everyday: A Short Biography of DEFA
*With introduction and post-screening talk
Love in the time of politics
Hannes Balla is the construction foreman of the large building site Schkona. He is a charming anti-hero who challenges authority at every turn, and is admired by his team. As a new married party secretary Werner Horrath and a young engineer Kati Klee arrive at the site for work and the three fall into a love triangle and a web of conflicts, deeper realities of life in the GDR surface. 
Based on one of the most popular novels in East Germany, Trace of Stones and its director were banned after the film’s brief run in theatres in the 1960s. The film saw the light of day again after the fall of the Berlin Wall and went on to win a FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale.
Her Third  (Der Dritte)
Director: Egon Guenther 
East Germany | 1972 | 111' |  In German with English subtitles | DCP | Colour
11/1 (Fri) 7:30pm*
*With introduction and after-screening talk
A rampage to hit on the third man
Margit Fliesser is a computer technician in her mid-thirties, and is divorced twice with two children. She has been raised by an impoverished and religious family, lost her mother at an early age and got married at a young age - first to her school lecturer who is not serious about her, then to a blind alcoholic who is rather indulged in his own egoistical complex. While wrestling with all the unfortunate shortcomings in life, she meets her peculiarly named colleague, Hrdlitschka. As romance happens, Margit is determined not to succumb to another cliché pigeonholing women. Will she find happiness? Her Third was almost banned for a scene that was considered mildly erotic.
The Legend of Paul and Paula (Die Legende von Paul und Paula) + Lecture on DEFA
Director: Heiner Carow
East Germany | 1973 | 106' | In German with English subtitles | DCP | Colour
12/1 (Sat) 3:00pm*
*With DEFA Screen Talk, introduction and after-screening talk 
A fairytale of two Ps
Single mother Paula falls in love with married Paul (played by Winfried Glatzeder, who was coined as the East German Jean-Paul Belmondo). Paula might have been the true love of his life, but Paul contains his desire in order to maintain a seemingly normal life and stays in a wedlock where his wife is cheating, as Paula pursues Paul relentlessly as if there is no tomorrow. The Legend of Paul and Paula is an enchanting plea for the right to individual happiness, even in a socialist state. The film was a big hit in the GDR until it was banned later.
Screen Talk: East Germany in the Eyes of Women Protagonists 
To explore our selection of DEFA films in greater depth, former DEFA film producer and researcher Christina Schmidt will visit Hong Kong to give a general overview of the oeuvre of DEFA and how GDR culture and society are reflected and refracted in the eyes of women protagonists.
About the speaker

Christina Schmidt is now based in Berlin (Germany) and Bologna (Italy). She was born in Erfurt in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1963, and graduated with a degree in film studies, history and dramaturgy from Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen in Potsdam-Babelsberg (GDR). In 1988, she started working on television dramas and scriptwriting for the DEFA studio. Since 1991, she has become independent and has been teaching, writing, organising events and working on documentary and research projects about the history of DEFA and its films. She has published a book on East German cinema titled Al di là del Muro: Cinema e società nella Germania Est 1945-1990.


Solo Sunny
Director: Konrad Wolf, Wolfgang Kohlhaase
East Germany | 1978-1980 | 104' | In German with English subtitles | DCP | Colour
Won Silver Bear for Best Actress and FIPRESCI Prize, and nominated for Golden Bear, Berlinale 1980
Won Best Script, Chicago International Film Festival 1980
12/1 (Sat) 7:30pm*
*With introduction and post-screening talk

Like sunshine, you light up an infatuated heart, and I only love you
Ingrid Sommer tries to launch a singing career with a stage name, Sunny, and travels around with the band Tornados to play small gigs around the province. While her headstrong way often puts her at odds with the rest of the world, and her romantic pursuits have not made things easier, she has also become more self-assertive, vigorous and alive. Based on the true story of a Crimean Tatar orphan, an outcast in the GDR, the tale of Sunny as a loner accentuates the sense of displacement of individuals in the GDR. Solo Sunny was the top-grossing film in East Germany since The Legend of Paul and Paula.
Apprehension (Die Beunruhigung)
Director: Lothar Warneke

East Germany | 1981/1982 | 99' | In German with English subtitles | DCP | B&W

13/1 (Sun) 2:00pm*
*With introduction and after-screening talk
A psychologist learns about mental balance
Divorced with a teenage son, single mother and psychologist Inge is involved with a married man. One day, she learns that she has breast cancer, which makes her re-evaluate her relationships and her life. She cries, looks for old friends, confronts people, and comes to terms with things.
With a powerful, semi-autobiographical script by Helga Schubert, Apprehension is considered by critics to be East Germany’s greatest woman’s film. Made in an experimental manner with a low budget, the film’s grainy black and white images and the use of non-professional actors contributed to its documentary-like realism. It was a box office hit when it was first released.
Director: Helke Misselwitz
Germany | 1992 | 87' | In German with English subtitles | 35mm | Colour
Nominated for Outstanding Feature Film, German Film Awards 1993
13/1 (Sun) 4:45pm*
*With introduction and after-screening talk
Fear eats the soul in a small town
Herzsprung is one of the last handful of films produced by DEFA before the studio closed down after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its tragic mixed-race romance recalls that of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974), and is similarly intense and fierce. 
Since the German unification, the small town of Herzsprung remains unchanged except its sharp rise of unemployment. Johanna, a young mother, becomes one of the unemployed and lives on welfare. Her husband has committed suicide and she falls in love with a dark-skinned, roving adventurer. As the lovers become the talk of the town, the threat of death also lurks in corners. 


Tickets of 30 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall - DEFA Classics Revisited are available at URBTIX now.


Ticket prices: $75/$60*

Screening of The Legend of Paul and Paula and Lecture on DEFA: $95/$76*

Tickets package (includes 1 ticket of all films and the lecture): $375


*20% off discount for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis. Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission.

20% off discount to Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s students with a valid discount letter (Not applicable to internet and telephone booking)

20% off for each purchase of 4 or more standard tickets.


Programme enquiries: 2802 0088 / 2582 0203

Credit card telephone booking: 2111 5999

Mobile ticketing app booking: My URBTIX (Android & iPhone versions)

Ticketing enquiries: 3761 6661 (10:00-20:00 Daily)

Internet booking: www.urbtix.hk

Website: www.goethe.de/hongkong | www.hkac.org.hk


Co-Presented by Hong Kong Arts Centre and Goethe-Institut Hongkong


Hong Kong Arts Centre – Moving Images 香港藝術中心:流動影像
Hong Kong Arts Centre
Goethe-Institut Hongkong



What's On
4/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre  
2022.05.25 - 2027.05.27
Cho Yiu Chuen 
2022.11.01 - 2024.11.30
The Gallery of Hong Kong Art School (10/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre) 
2023.04.28 - 2023.05.31