The period of Weimar Germany, between the end of World War I and the advent of the Nazi regime, is considered an early renaissance in world cinema, with many influential and important films being made. The style of many of these films is called German Expressionism.
German films from this era have both a historical significance as well as artistic merit. This time period produced popular drama and comedy films as well as infamous propaganda pieces from filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
After WWII, East Germany used the production facilities that existed in the Soviet-occupied zone to estabish Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA). Subject matter for films made in East Germany was strictly controlled by the government, catering to the Communist interests of the state.
Many of the films produced in West Germany immediately after World War II dealt with the horrors of the Nazi regime. Films from the 1950s typically showed German soldiers as heroic victims of a regime for which they did not want to fight. In the late 50s the popularity of West German cinema began to decline, prompting many fillmakers to focus on more popular film genres such as westerns and crime dramas. By the 1960s filmmakers such as Fassbinder, Wenders and Herzog, had developed a new perspective on films that focused on the artistic aspects of filmmaking.