DEFA Foundation

DEFA Foundation

Franz-Mehring-Platz 1

10243 Berlin

DEFA Foundation

The DEFA Foundation works as an incorporated, non-profit foundation to preserve film heritage and make it publicly accessible. When it was set up the Foundation was assigned the film stocks of the formerly state-run East German DEFA film studios (Deutsche Film AG), and its objective is to preserve everything that was produced by DEFA, make these materials publicly accessible and promote German cinematic art and culture. With 12,000 films in its possession, the Foundation sees itself as a platform for communicating both cultural knowledge and the need to act to preserve this heritage. These films contribute towards our examination of socially relevant topics as well as providing information about lifestyles and values in society. 


In addition to administrative work, the DEFA Foundation also actively promotes German cinematic art. It awards prizes to the amount of 3,000-5,000 € thus supporting and honouring German film-makers, directors or script-writers whose work makes an innovative contribution to our examination of the times we live in. In addition, the Foundation honours German film-makers at its own award ceremony for merits in German film and for their artistic oeuvre. With its series of publications, the DEFA Foundation has also found a way to report using literary means about the history,  appraisal and reception, but also the backgrounds to film-making in the GDR. It is also part of the DEFA Foundation’s mission to process and digitalise the film materials in its possession so that these can be presented in the modern media in future. 

Film stocks

The DEFA film stocks, which wrote German history, include the entire cinema production of the former GDR film studios from almost five decades. The stocks have 950 feature films and short films, 820 animated films, 5,800 documentary films and weekly newsreels, 4,000 foreign films dubbed in German, not yet released and residual materials from DEFA’s production, photos, posters, scripts and their literary precursors, advertising materials, musical scores and approval documents. Besides the DEFA archives, other collections containing more than 9,000 broadcastable cassettes with eyewitness reports and documentations of more recent German history, politics, science, culture and everyday life are among the stored materials. The DEFA film stocks also contain documentary films about exiles like Arnold Zweig, Wieland Herzfelde, Erich Weinert, Erich Fried and Egon Erwin Kisch as well as feature films by exiles like Konrad Wolf (I Was Nineteen), Slatan Dudow (Our Daily Bread) and Gustav von Wangenheim (... und wieder 48!).