Non-Fiction films produced by DEFA in the German Democratic Republic, 1946–1989. Collections of the Progress Film Archive, Berlin


This list maps the pres­ence of India in the non-fic­tion films pro­duced by DEFA in East Ger­many and lat­er in the Ger­man Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic (GDR) between 1946 and 1989. These films are housed in the archive of Progress, which was the only film dis­trib­u­tor of the GDR. Progress was one of the old­est and largest Ger­man film dis­trib­u­tors, that was found­ed on the 1st of August 1950, as a Ger­man-Sovi­et com­pa­ny in East Berlin. These films present India from the GDR’s per­spec­tive, as a for­mer colo­nial nation that was try­ing to move for­ward on the path of indus­tri­al devel­op­ment, democ­ra­cy and social progress. In this col­lec­tion, which main­ly con­sists of the news­reel films, Der Augen­zeuge (The Eye­wit­ness), India is giv­en a promi­nent place. The films cast cru­cial insights on Indi­an soci­ety and poli­ty, but also India’s role and sig­nif­i­cance in the con­tem­po­rary geopo­lit­i­cal sce­nario of the Cold War, from the GDR’s per­spec­tive. The film mate­r­i­al is not only use­ful for its his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal con­tent, but also for its cin­e­mat­ic inter­ven­tions. The list also includes some GDR doc­u­men­tary films that sole­ly focused on India. In these films, we see an entan­gle­ment of his­to­ries, per­spec­tives, inter­ests and cin­e­mat­ic gazes between, but not lim­it­ed to, India and GDR.

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