UFA GmbH is a German film and television production company that unites all production activities of Bertelsmann in Germany. Its history comes from Universum Film AG (abbreviated in logo as UFA) that was a major German film company headquartered in Babelsberg, producing and distributing motion pictures from 1917 through to the end of World War II. The name UFA was revived for an otherwise new film and television outfit.
UFA was established as Universum-Film on December 18, 1917, as a direct response to foreign competition in film and propaganda. UFA was founded by a consortium headed by Emil Georg von Stauß, a former Deutsche Bank board member.
In 1925, financial pressures compelled UFA to enter into distribution agreements with American studios Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to form Parufamet. UFA’s weekly newsreels continued to contain reference to the Paramount deal until 1940, at which point Die Deutsche Wochenschau (“The German Weekly Review”) was consolidated and used as an instrument of Nazi propaganda.
In March 1927, Alfred Hugenberg, an influential German media entrepreneur and later Minister of the Economy, Agriculture and Nutrition in Hitler’s cabinet, purchased UFA and transferred it to the Nazi Party in 1933.
In 1942, as a result of the Nazi policy of “forcible coordination” known as the Gleichschaltung, UFA and all of its competitors, including Tobis, Terra, Bavaria Film and Wien-Film, were bundled together with foreign film production companies Nazi-controlled to form the super-corporation UFA-Film GmbH (Ufi), with headquarters in Berlin.
After the Red Army occupied the UFA complex in 1945, and after the privatization of Bavaria and Ufa in 1956, the company was restructured to form Universum Film AG and taken over by a consortium of banks.
In 1964, Bertelsmann’s Chief Representative, Manfred Köhnlechner, acquired the entire Universum Film AG from Deutsche Bank, which had previously been the main UFA shareholder and which had determined the company’s business policy as head of the shareholders’ consortium. Köhnlechner bought UFA, which was strongly in debt, on behalf of Reinhard Mohn for roughly five million Deutschmarks. (Köhnlechner: “The question came up as to why not take the entire thing, it still had many gems.”) Only a few months later, Köhnlechner also acquired the Ufa-Filmtheaterkette, a movie theater chain, for almost eleven million Deutschmarks.
Today, UFA GmbH (UFA) is the parent company uniting all production activities of Bertelsmann/FremantleMedia in Germany. Until August 2013, eight subsidiaries operated under the UFA umbrella: UFA Fernsehproduktion, UFA Entertainment, Grundy UFA, Grundy Light Entertainment, UFA Cinema, Teamworx, Phoenix Film and UFA Brand Communication.
In August 2013, UFA underwent an organizational restructuring that simplified the company down to three production divisions. Today, UFA Fiction, UFA Serial Drama and UFA Show & Factual are the three units responsible for production.
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Address Babelsberg, Brandenburg, Potsdam, Germany