In the summer of 1979, in Thüringen, in East Germany, two families put together a crazy plan. They are desperate to leave the DDR for the 'West' and plan to flee in a homemade hot air balloon. After sewing and tinkering for weeks, the amateurs make their first attempt. Meters from the West German border, their balloon suffers from the rain and crash lands. Luckily, they manage to avoid being caught by the police. However, the wreckage from their escape attempt is found and that triggers a desperate manhunt. The tension rises as the families determine to try again, and a race against time ensues. On the one hand, the authorities, desperate to track down the traitors, become aware that a second attempt is being planned. On the other, the would-be escapees, conscious of the search drawing ever nearer, need to build a more robust, weatherproof balloon - and avoid leaving too many clues.
The closing credits show multiple photos of the real-life subjects of the film: including hospital photos of Wetzel (whose leg was broken on impact) and East German crime scene photos of the first failed balloon attempt. See more »
A masterly crafted political thriller set in 1979's communist East Germany, director Michael Herbig's suspenseful drama follows the desperate actions and courageous escape of two families, running from the pressures and horrors of Civil War, as they attempt to sail over the border in a homemade hot-air balloon. Winner of the Audience Choice Award at Heartland International Film Festival, the film centers on the strong bond and dedication of a father and mother, and their two sons. It also deeply observes the reactions over the children, creating a parallel story: the oldest one is living his first romance with the daughter of an official, while the youngest demonstrates conflicts with innocence and the acceptance of a divided nation. As they fail on their first risky attempt, they are forced to re-arrange their plans for a new balloon, while The Stasi speeds up an investigation, rapidly tracking them. Based on an adventurous true story, vividly performed by a convincing cast, especially Friedrich Mücke, as Peter Strelzyk the leader of the Balloon Operation, it's a triumphant family drama.
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