Border crossings: cinema posters of western imported films in the GDR

An exhibition in the University and City Library of Cologne in cooperation with the Institute for Media Culture and Theater and the Theater Studies Collection of the University of Cologne

Louis de Funès, Eddie Murphy, Barbra Streisand - these and other stars of American and West European film were anything but unknown to cinema-goers in the GDR. Due to loosening of socialist cultural policies, a larger number of western imported films were distributed from the 1970s onwards.

The exhibition presents their film posters, which oscillate between aesthetic opulence and pop cultural collage. Complementary exhibits in the exhibition include West German film posters, which provide a comparative view, and committee minutes from the Film Department of the GDR Ministry of Culture, which document decisions on Western films proposed for distribution. Negative decisions and state censorship measures are also repeatedly recorded in the minutes, providing insights into the ideological orientation of GDR film policy.

The exhibited film posters are from the holdings of the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung of the University of Cologne and come from a small cinema in the Thuringian province. The exhibition includes a recording of an interview with the former cinema operator, in which he talks about everyday business and tells anecdotes of recurring challenges.