The Dove On The Roof (1973)


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To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DEFA (Deutsche Film-AG) Studio in East Germany, the Goethe-Institut New Zealand presents in its Winter Film Series at the Auckland Art Gallery a film programme highlighting different themes and genres that were important to the DEFA. 70 years onwards the films give a glimpse into the diversity of film production in East Germany and offer a rare insight into the life, thinking and being of people behind the wall.

The Dove On The Roof (Die Taube Auf Dem Dach)

The engineer Linda (Heidemarie Wenzel) is in charge of a large building site in the South of the GDR where hundreds of prefabricated flats are being built. She falls in love with two of the men on her construction team: The young free-spirited student Daniel (Andreas Gripp) who works on the site during his holidays and the foreman Hans Böwe (Günter Naumann) who has built many houses but lost his own home over his commitment to work. Linda loves her work and her independence but risks losing sight of her own happiness.

When Iris Gusner, one of very few East German women directors, previewed the rough-cut of her debut film, she was accused of presenting an "unrealistic picture of life". Especially her portrayal of the worker Böwe as a tragic figure was being criticized: Gusner was told to have "spat into the face of the working class". The film was banned and the film print lost. It was only in 2010 that the film, originally shot in colour, was reconstructed and released in black and white at the cinemas.

Critics praise this film as an example of Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) from the GDR. The film raises questions about the importance of work, love and happiness in socialist East Germany of the 1970s.
Iris Gusner has repeatedly focused on the role and emancipation of women in her films, often questioning the official and the real gender roles in GDR society.

Directed by Iris Gusner, 1973. Runtime 82 mins. German with English subtitles

Auditorium, lower ground level