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Cinema in Service of the State: Perspectives on Film Culture in the GDR and Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960

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Volume 18

Film Europa

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Cinema in Service of the State

Perspectives on Film Culture in the GDR and Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960

Edited by Lars Karl and Pavel Skopal

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406 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-996-5 25% OFF! $150.00/£107.00 $112.50/£80.25 Hb Published (December 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78533-738-3 25% OFF! $39.95/£27.00 $29.96/£20.25 Pb Published (September 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78238-997-2 eBook

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“Given the signal role that “the most important of the arts” (as Lenin called cinema) plays in modern society, the book’s intellectual appeal transcends the disciplinary confines of “film studies,” offering a wealth of insights into the communist experiment with a classless society.” • Choice

"Cinema in Service of the State is a valuable step towards a broader understanding of cinema in the Soviet Bloc." • Apparatus

“Lars Karl and Pavel Skopal have produced an intriguing edited volume that addresses a significant lacuna in transnational cinema scholarship.” • Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

“Offers valuable insights into institutions that no longer exist, yet still resemble our own present institutions with their anxious tics and politicized economic imperatives… The volume provides an appropriate reference work for anyone working on Eastern bloc media from the period.” • Studies in Eastern European Cinema

“The contributions convince not only through their analytical penetration of a difficult research area but also through conscientious dealing with the extremely rich source material.” • Fotografie und Film

“A valuable contribution to the study of cinema in Czechoslovakia and the former GDR—and a rare example of a volume that ‘looks East’ and seeks to situate these two national cinemas within the broader context of Eastern European film production as a whole.” • Seán Allan, The University of Warwick


The national cinemas of Czechoslovakia and East Germany were two of the most vital sites of filmmaking in the Eastern Bloc, and over the course of two decades, they contributed to and were shaped by such significant developments as Sovietization, de-Stalinization, and the conservative retrenchment of the late 1950s. This volume comprehensively explores the postwar film cultures of both nations, using a “stereoscopic” approach that traces their similarities and divergences to form a richly contextualized portrait. Ranging from features to children’s cinema to film festivals, the studies gathered here provide new insights into the ideological, political, and economic dimensions of Cold War cultural production.

Lars Karl is a Researcher at the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe and a Lecturer at the University of Leipzig and the Humboldt University of Berlin. He has published a book on the perception of Soviet movies in the GDR and numerous articles on Russian and Soviet film history.

Pavel Skopal is a Lecturer in the Department of Film Studies and Audiovisual Culture, Masaryk University, Brno. He has edited anthologies devoted to the Czech film industry in the 1950s and local cinema history, and he has published a book of comparative research on cinema distribution and reception in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the GDR. His current book project is focused on co-productions between East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Subject: Film Studies Postwar History
Area: Central/Eastern Europe





Chapter 1. From Soviet Zone to Volksdemokratie: The Politics of Film Culture in the GDR, 1945-1960
David Bathrick

Chapter 2. Czechoslovak Culture and Cinema, 1945-1960
Jiří Knapík


Chapter 3. “Veterans” and “Dilettantes”: Film Production Culture vis-à-vis Top-down Political Changes, 1945–1962
Petr Szczepanik

Chapter 4. Barrandov’s Co-Productions: The Clumsy Way to Ideological Control, International Competitiveness, and Technological Improvement
Pavel Skopal

Chapter 5. Co-Productions (Un)Wanted: 1950s East/West German Film Collaborations and the Impact of Sovietisation on DEFA’s Prestige Agenda
Mariana Ivanova

Chapter 6. No TV without Film: Production Relations between the DEFA Studios and Deutscher Fernsehfunk
Thomas Beutelschmidt


Chapter 7. Military Film Studios before 1970: Between Cinematic Avant-Garde and Films on Command
Václav Šmidrkal

Chapter 8. Socialism for Sale: Czechoslovak Krátký film, Custom-Made Film Production, and the Promotion of Consumer Culture in the 1950s
Lucie Česálková


Chapter 9. Between Magic and Education: the First Fairy Tale Films in the GDR
Christin Niemeyer

Chapter 10. Children’s Films: Between Education, Art and Industry
Lukáš Skupa


Chapter 11. Decreed Open-Mindedness: The Leipzig Documentary and Short Film Festival in the 1960s as an example of the self-representation of the East German State
Andreas Kötzing

Chapter 12. National, Socialist, Global: The Changing Roles of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, 1946–1956
Jindřiška Bláhová


Chapter 13. Cinema Cultures of Integration: Film Distribution and Exhibition in the GDR and Czechoslovakia from the Perspective of Two Local Cases, 1945-1960
Kyrill Kunakhovich and Pavel Skopal

Chapter 14. A Decade between Resistance and Adaptation: The Leipzig University Film Club (1956-1966)
Fernando Ramos Arenas

Chapter 15. Screening the Occupier as Liberator: Soviet War Films in the SBZ and the GDR, 1945-65
Lars Karl


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