First Run Features launches The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection

First Run Features is getting ready to launch The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection on DVD later this month. DEFA (Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft) was made up of the state-run studios of the former German Democratic Republic or East Germany. It headquartered in the legendary UFA Studios of Babelsberg and was famous for the work of such artists as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich. Spanning from 1946 to the 1990s, this body of films represents Europe’s largest cohesive national cinema collection.

The DVD set will feature The Silent Star from 1960, a film by Kurt Maetzig, based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel “The Astronauts.” In this celebrated sci-fi classic, a mysterious object from outer space is found in the Gobi desert. An international expedition, dispatched to Venus to decipher the message it contains, discovers it is a declaration of war – on Earth! The DVD will contain a Historical Essay “Socialists in Outer Space,” Newsreels, Biographies, a Gallery of Set Design and a DEFA Sci-Fi Trailer Gallery.

The 1976 film In The Dust Of The Stars by Gottfried Kolditz is also part of the set. After a six-year voyage from Earth provoked by an urgent message for help, the spaceship Cyrno and her crew arrive on the planet TEM 4 ready for action. But the “Temers” deny having sent the message. Before departing, one of the crewman discovers something mysterious going on under the surface of TEM 4. This groovy 70’s sci-fi classic, replete with space age costumes, liberal social mores, and a socialist utopian undercurrent, is an enjoyable gem from the legendary DEFA East German film studio. The DVD will contain an Introductory Essay, an Interview with the Director of Photography, a Photo Gallery, Biographies, Filmographies and the DEFA Sci-Fi Trailer Gallery.

Eoloma the 1972 movie by by Hermann Zschoche will also be part of the release. A mysterious message – “Eolomea” – is received on Earth from a sector of space. Within three days, eight cargo ships disappear from the sector, and a space station goes silent. What is Eolomea – and who on Earth knows about it? With shades of Tarkovsky, Kubrick, and even Jess Franco, this striking sci-fi classic from the legendary DEFA film studio features a spectacular space exploration plot grounded in realism – the scientists drink and swear, the bureaucrats get in the way, and the space stations are reminiscent of MIR.

The DVD will feature an Introductory Essay and Interview with the Special Effects Cameraman and the Costume Designer, a Photo Gallery, Biographies, Filmographies and the DEFA Sci-Fi Trailer Gallery.

First Run Features will release “The DEFA Sci-Fi Collection” on August 29. The box set will carry a $59.95 price tag but each film will also be available individually at a $24.95 retail price.

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