New York-based independent First Run Features has signed a partnership agreement with Icestorm International to act as exclusive North American home video distributor of the films of DEFA, the state-run studios of the former German Democratic Republic.

DEFA (Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft) was headquartered in the famous UFA Studios in Babelsberg near Berlin and kickstarted the careers of actors and directors like Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Spanning from 1946 to the 1990s, the DEFA films encompass adaptations of German literary classics, animated works, operas, musicals, westerns, science fiction and family films. The first two titled to emerge from the agreement are Heiner Carow's Coming Out (1989), the only feature film about gay life ever produced in communist east Germany, and When the Wall Came Tumbling Down (1989), a documentary in which world leaders like Gorbachev, Bush and Kohl speak out about the events leading to the fall of the Berlin wall in Nov, 1989.

The deal was concluded between First Run president Seymour Wishman and Gerhard Sieber, president of Berlin-based Icestorm GmbH, which holds worldwide rights in all media to the DEFA library. It will be administered by Icestorm International, the international arm which operates in Northampton, MA.