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“DEFA: The Cinema of East Germany”

The most affluent of the Soviet Bloc countries, East Germany had a thriving film industry, but its work was seldom exported to the West. Perhaps that’s because movies made by East Germany’s state-owned DEFA Studios—as demonstrated by the musicals excerpted in the recent East Side Story—were actually too Western; they didn’t have the “exotic” appeal of their Czech, Polish, and Russian counterparts. This series provides an overview of DEFA’s productions from its 1946 founding to its 1992 closure. Highlights include The Murderers Are Among Us, a 1946 anti-Nazi thriller that revived the style of ’20s German expressionism (pictured, April 4 at 2:30 p.m.) and Trace of Stones, a suppressed ’60s film that presented a rebellious Berlin construction crew in the wide-screen mode of a Hollywood western (April 18 at 12:30 p.m.). Also included are The Black Box, a 1992 documentary about an East German secret police functionary (April 5 at 4 p.m.); The Legend of Paul and Paula, a ’70s romance that became a cult film (April 11 at 3 p.m.); and The Flight, the tale of disillusioned doctor who decides to defect to the West, which was star Armin Mueller-Stahl’s last film before he left the East (April 26 at 4 p.m.). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)