62. Internationales Leipziger Festival für Dokumentar- und Animationsfilm
DOK Leipzig 28 October – 3 November 2019
62st International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film
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An Alternative Vision?
Everyday Life in the GDR

The moving pictures we know from the GDR tend to originate from DEFA productions or television. The Special Programme An Alternative Vision? Everyday life in the GDR brings to the big screen footage from beyond these sources that has been unknown to most until now. The series is based around two research projects that are devoted to uncovering hitherto largely untapped film stocks. The first part of the programme casts a spotlight on amateur film. The second part focuses on works produced by the Staatliche Filmdokumentation (State Film Documentation), which primarily produced films for archival purposes.

Until 1000 Voices Sing in Harmony (1983)

In the GDR the making of amateur films was a popular part of organised leisure activities. In 40 years around 950 amateurs made more than 10,000 films. Many turned to their immediate surroundings, joined forces in company film studios and filmed in their places of work. In so doing some of these amateurs had a stab at taking on an artistic approach, sometimes conforming to the system and sometimes displaying critical undertones. The part of the programme entitled At Work (curated by Ralf Forster) affords insight into Cottbus' state textile manufacture with the film "Präsent", featuring engineered production and a fashion show. The work "Assembly with the DM-SPE" documents the assembly of a blast furnace with the help of a helicopter, set to music by Richard Wagner. Held on the Sunday of the festival, the Leipzig Matinee (curated by Stefan Gööck) brings to the screen amateur film production in Leipzig and the surrounding area, featuring among others fêtes held in an allotment, the inauguration of Leipzig's urban railway network, and a satirical city tour.


Name-plate of the SFD at the entrance of the building in Berlin (c) Martina Liebnitz The programme State Film Documentation combines both films and film extracts, most of which are being shown for the first time. The film production group SFD was active from 1970 to 1986 as part of the GDR's State Film Archive. They were tasked with documenting life in the GDR for the generations to come. Therefore the works remained in storage in the archives and virtually inaccessible to GDR citizens. The works were intended for various uses, including, for example, future research purposes, documentary film projects or pedagogical work. Another part of their task was to document those areas of East German society that were otherwise not supposed to be seen. They brought to the fore subjects that were to a large extent taboo: problems of state housing policy, alternative ways of life and the dereliction of Berlin's old buildings were captured on film. The programme State Film Documentation was curated by Anne Barnert and Andreas Kötzing. The films will be shown at Leipzig's Zeitgeschichtliches Forum.


The project is a collaboration with the Filmmuseum Potsdam, the Sächsisches Staatsarchiv and the Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung at the TU Dresden. It was funded by the Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany.