The mission of the DEFA Foundation is to preserve the films of
DEFA, the former East German film studios, and oversee their use for the public
good as part of Germany’s national cultural heritage. By allocating project
funds, scholarships, and awards, the Foundation contributes to the support and
sponsorship of German film culture and film art. The Foundation has also
gathered oral history documents of contemporary witnesses and the Thomas Grimm
Archive of Contemporary Witnesses.
DEFA Foundation is an incorporated non-profit foundation with its seat in Berlin. It was established by the Federal Government of Germany on December 15, 1998. DEFA film stocks, considered an important part of Germany's cultural heritage, were assigned to the DEFA Foundation as capital for Foundation operations. It is the mission of the DEFA Foundation to preserve the films made at the East German DEFA studios, to use them for the public good and in general to support and sponsor German film culture and art.
DEFA film stocks include the entire cinematic production of the East German DEFA film studios over almost five decades. This production consisted in:
- 950 feature films and short feature films,
- 820 animated films,
- 5,800 documentary films and newsreels,
- 4,000 German-dubbed foreign films,
- non-published and outtake materials from DEFA
photos, posters, scripts and screenplay drafts, advertising material, scores and documents related to the official permission process.
With 12,000 films in its keeping, the DEFA Foundation is committed to expanding and imparting cultural knowledge. Its films contribute to the discussion of socially important issues and values. All films are listed with filmographic information in a database accessible through the Foundation's homepage.
In keeping with its mission, the DEFA Foundation sponsors projects proposed by private persons, public corporations, and non-profit institutions. A selection committee is formed by members of the Foundation’s Advisory Council to select from among applications for support. The Foundation supports and sponsors scholarly and journalistic work on DEFA films, as well as exhibitions, symposia, and other events involving film culture. The Foundation further supports cinema and museum projects, and allocates stipends that serve in the development of German film culture and the preparation of new film projects. Since its founding in 1998, the DEFA Foundation has allocated about 2.3 million euros for the support and funding of film art and culture, with 500,000 euros thereof allocated in 2004 alone.