Frank Beyer: In Memoriam

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Feb 9–22, 2007

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Frank Beyer (1932—2006) directed some of the most powerful and historically significant films made in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). He studied directing in the early 1950s at the renowned Prague Film School (FAMU) with Milos Forman, among others, and he joined the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA) Studio for Feature Films as a director in 1957. His first feature film, Two Mothers, dealt with a theme—coming to terms with the Nazi period—that would reappear throughout his life’s work. From 1958 to 1966 Beyer directed films such as Naked among Wolves, the first German film to portray life in a concentration camp; Five Cartridges, on the Spanish Civil War; and one of the most highly regarded German film comedies ever made, Carbide and Sorrel. In 1966, when his Trace of Stones was banned by GDR officials for being “politically inappropriate,” Beyer was expelled from the studio, and his career came to an abrupt halt. He did not direct another film until his return to DEFA in 1974 with the internationally successful Jacob the Liar. Beyer continued making television and theatrical films until his death.

Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film; with the gracious collaboration of the Goethe-Institut, New York, and the DEFA Film Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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