7.8/10
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10 user 20 critic

Distant Lights (2003)

Lichter (original title)
This movie reflects on the situation around the border between Poland and Germany. The fate of many single characters creates a picture of life in this region: Some Ukrainians want to cross... See full summary »
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14 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Andrzej Górak ...
LKW Fahrer
Anna Yanovskaya ...
Anna (as Anna Janowskaja)
Sergey Frolov ...
Dimitri (as Sergej Frolov)
Bartek Wójtowicz ...
Petja
...
Andrej Liousikov ...
Oleg
Sergey Kalantay ...
Flüchtling
Nikolaus Kieselmann ...
Flüchtling
Juri Konkov ...
Flüchtling
Wojciech Klimowicz ...
Flüchtling
Boris Raskin ...
Flüchtling
Jana Pfeffer ...
Flüchtling
Martin Kiefer ...
Marko
Peter Obermann ...
Zollbeamter
...
Katharina
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Storyline

This movie reflects on the situation around the border between Poland and Germany. The fate of many single characters creates a picture of life in this region: Some Ukrainians want to cross the border illegal to get into Germany, a company wants to build a new factory, a Polish taxi driver desperately needs money to buy his daughter a communion dress, and so on. Written by Benjamin Stello

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Willkommen in der Wirklichkeit

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

31 July 2003 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Au feu!  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Welcome to reality
6 August 2003 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

In loosely interconnected episodes "Lichter" tells five stories of financial predicament, difficult relationships and dreams of a better future on both sides of the German-Polish border. A mattress salesman goes bust, an interpreter for the border police helps an illegal Ukrainian immigrant get to Berlin, a Polish taxi driver helps another couple of immigrants because he needs money for the Communion dress of his daughter, a group of juvenile cigarette smugglers go through a jealousy drama and a young German architect learns an unpleasant secret that his former Polish girlfriend has hidden from him.

Sounds depressing (and to many Americans it probably would be, as they seem to need an all-conquering hero as the protagonist - at least that's what Hollywood chucks out year after year), but we Old Europeans ;-) know better and want to see characters that we can identify with because they have the same problems we have or are even worse off. In other words we want realistic films (in addition to, not instead of(!) genre movies and escapist fairy tales), and "Lichter" is very realistic because it never betrays its characters for an unlikely plot twist or artificial humor just to please the audience. That doesn't mean there are no funny moments and I for one didn't leave the cinema depressed at all. The tagline "Willkommen in der Wirklichkeit" (Welcome to reality) really fits 100%.

All the actors are great (I liked David Striesow as pitiable entrepreneur Ingo, whom you wouldn't begrudge his "jungle bonus", and Maria Simon as sympathetic interpreter Sonya best) and their characters manage to stay likable although each episode has a moment of betrayal/lie/theft where their economic fears force them to display their most negative character traits. But this is balanced by a moment of hope in each episode where the characters behave more positive (more helpful, more unselfish, more friendly) than their situation would actually allow them to.

Finally, I have to say, that Hans-Christian Schmid is one of the best directors Germany has at the moment. Most German directors who come fresh from film school often have a very good debut-film, but can't keep up the same quality after that. Schmid however has made only good films so far ("Nach Fünf im Urwald", "23", "Crazy" and now "Lichter") and they even keep getting better IMO. As much as I love that some German films ("Run Lola run", "Nowhere in Africa" or "Good Bye Lenin") are successful abroad lately, they show Germany's past and I really hope that "Lichter" will have at least the same level of success, because it shows what life in Germany (for a particular social class at a particular place - Frankfurt an der Oder) is like TODAY, on the eve of the EU enlargement.


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