lumbung Film: GDR International #1
Responding to the remarkable presence of archives as residues of parallel histories and networks of solidarity at documenta fifteen, GDR INTERNATIONAL reflects on how the internationalist agenda of Socialist East Germany (German Democratic Republic) affected the country’s film production and film politics.
Three rarely seen shorts by Peter Ulbrich, produced for the popular education arm of the state film production, DEFA, recall the importance of North Vietnam for the political self-image of the “first Socialist German state”.
Wo einst Könige saßen (Where Once Sat Kings)
dir. Peter Ulbrich, GDR 1957, 9 min, 35mm, German with English subtitles
A sympathetic gaze at a country recently liberated from foreign domination, now facing a self-determined future built on its cultural traditions. The division between North and South Vietnam is subtly likened to that between East and West Germany. Ulbrich´s first take on Vietnam was internally criticized for “romanticizing the past.”
Die Fischer von Vinh-moc (The Fishermen From Vinh-moc)
dir. Peter Ulbrich, GDR 1958, 17 min, 35mm, German with English subtitles
The steady path to Socialism told from the perspective of a fisherman. He praises the help of brotherly countries towards the gradual modernization of his trade and again draws parallels between the division of Vietnam and that of Germany: “The Den Hai river is the Elbe of Vietnam.”
Denkt an mein Land (Think of My Country)
dir. Peter Ulbrich, GDR 1966, 19 min, 35mm, German with English subtitles
A scorching indictment of the US intervention in Vietnam identifying the destruction of a socialist society as its driving motive and glorifying the skillful resistance of David against Goliath. A compilation film partly made from footage shot by DEFA crews in Vietnam during the war, it played an important role in publicly reinforcing the GDR´s support for the Viet Cong and anti-imperialist struggles worldwide.
lumbung Film: GDR International is curated by Tobias Hering.
Tobias Hering is a freelance curator living in Berlin and Mecklenburg, Germany. His work focuses on thematic film programs that deal with questions of image politics and the role of archives. Recent projects include Tell It to the Stones, an exhibition, program series, and retrospective on the work of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub at the Akademie der Künste Berlin (2017, together with Annett Busch), The gatekeepers exist to be overthrown, a three-part homage to New York film curator Amos Vogel at the Arsenal cinema in Berlin (2021–2022), and several program series on migrant film work in East and West Germany for the Zeughauskino in Berlin, the Film Museum in Frankfurt, and the Short Film Festival in Hamburg, among others. Since 2011, Tobias Hering has been involved in the programming of the Kassel Dokfest. At the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, he is head of the archive-based section re-selected. He is co-editor of several anthologies, most recently Tell It to the Stones: Encounters with the Films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub (Sternberg Press, 2021, together with Annett Busch).
Introduction: Tobias Hering
Intro & discussion in English
Guest: Subversive Film
Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 3, 34117 Kassel
Languages: English, German