I In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts I

Echoing Chekov and meticulously crafting a glimpse at the life in the crumbling GDR, this drama brings together some of the best professionals in German cinema. Writer Wolfgang Kohlhaase turned Eugen Ruge’s bestselling novel into a condensed study of lost dreams, both personal and political.

East Berlin in the early autumn of 1989. Wilhelm Powileit is grinning and bearing his 90th birthday with stoic indifference.

There’s not much the old man hasn’t seen. A staunch communist for the past 75 years, he fled from Nazi Germany and lived in exile in Mexico. Meanwhile his stepson Kurt was arrested in Moscow as an alleged counter-revolutionary. After his return to East Germany, Wilhelm had only limited possibilities of a party career in the SED due to being an ’émigré from the West’. But today the Young Pioneers are serenading him and he is being decorated with medals. Whilst Wilhelm vehemently denies that his ideal of a better world was nothing but a fantasy and that the high hopes of yesteryear have been smothered by bureaucracy and fear, the younger generation is leaving the country. And cracks have appeared in his own family that are also beyond repair.

Director Matti Geschonneck and writer Wolfgang Kohlhaase, both grew up in the Communist East and uniquely combine empathy and complexity in this ensemble drama.

(Christoph Gröner)