Jump directly to the page contents

Erika Richter (1938-2020) was a renowned dramaturge and film critic in East Berlin. From 1976 onward she collaborated with the best film directors of the DEFA to develop material and scripts. She also wrote film criticism, essays, portraits and books, which met with a lively response not only in the GDR but also in West Germany. For decades, Erika Richter was a close friend of the Arsenal, the International Forum of the Berlinale, and ultimately of our team. We are grateful to her for so much: suggestions, pointers, broadening our horizons, lively contributions and clever questions during discussions, and her appraisals of new films and film trends. She was a frequent visitor to the Arsenal, always arriving early to screenings and developing friendships not only with the program makers but also with our staff at the box office.

Although as an East Berliner Erika Richter could only really join us after the fall of the Wall and reunification, we knew her and her husband Rolf Richter since the 1970s and came into contact with them on our film-related explorations in East Berlin. We met at festivals in Leipzig, Carthage and Moscow and discovered a shared language – a shared interest in film. We invited both of them to attend the Forum of the Berlinale as journalists, which was not always easy. Bans and restrictions were the norm until 1975 – sometimes only one was allowed to come, and then the other.
In 1990, now that it was possible, we asked Erika Richter to join the selection committee of the Forum. With her on board, we finally had the authentic voice of the East that we had been lacking. Erika put us in contact with East German filmmakers and gave us recommendations for new films, always from her personal perspective. Her input was equally important in how we addressed other films from Eastern Europe, such as from the USSR, Hungary or Poland. Particularly memorable were her contributions to the Forum’s informational materials. Whenever another film was screened from Winfried and Barbara Junge’s “Die Kinder von Golzow” (The Children of Golzow) series, Erika Richter inevitably conducted an epically long interview with the filmmaking couple, producing something that went wide beyond the scope of the topic at hand but was nevertheless printed.
Among her numerous articles for a variety of publications is a eulogy to the Arsenal, a wonderful text full of enthusiasm and admiration for our work, written in 2013 for “Kinema Kommunal.” She described the Arsenal as a “beacon of the cinematic arts” and “home of kindred spirits.”
As a dramaturge, Erika Richter was involved in many DEFA films, but as a critic her horizons were broad. She was particularly interested in non-European films and films by women. She appreciated and loved the films of Italian neorealism, but also espoused films of a completely different aesthetic style. She admired the work of Helma Sanders-Brahms and Fred Kelemen, whose films she tirelessly championed. Together with Fred Kelemen, she curated a retrospective of Armenian film for the Arsenal, which included the screening of unforgettable films such as Artavazd Peleshian’s We.
Erika Richter’s formidable achievements also include the publication of the journal “Film und Fernsehen” (Film and Television), which she continued alone from 1993-1997 after the death of her husband Rolf Richter, with heroic effort from edition to edition. This journal was one of the best German-language film publications, highly interesting and innovative in its approach of bringing together an ongoing Eastern European perspective and reflections on new forms of film from Western countries into a common discourse.
Erika Richter’s work was buoyed by a love for all new forms of film and cinematic liberation movements, by the need for communication and the obligation to support such movements. Under the conditions of real socialism in East Germany, this led to conflicts, prohibitions and – in Erika Richter’s own work as well – to unfinished projects.
Erika Richter passed away in August at the age of 82. As a tribute to her and as a sample of her work we will show the 1989 film RÜCKWÄRTSLAUFEN KANN ICH AUCH by Karl-Heinz Lotz. (Erika and Ulrich Gregor) (26.10.)

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media