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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Non-Fiction films produced by DEFA in the German Democratic Republic, 1946–1989. Collections of the Progress Film Archive, Berlin
Compiled by: Reyazul Haque 2019
MIDA Thematic Resources
Anandita Bajpai, Heike Liebau
ZMO, Kirchweg 33, 14129 Berlin