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Kurt Gerron's Karussell (Kurt Gerrons Karussell)

Kurt Gerron's Karussell

Berlin 1928: Mack The Knife is sung on stage for the very first time. For Kurt Gerron, it will prove the biggest break of his career. Overnight he becomes a national star. Already a well-known character actor in silent movies, Gerron moves effortlessly into sound and stars alongside Marlene Dietrich as the magician in the legendary film The Blue Angel. Soon afterwards he is being sought after as a film director at the Berlin UFA studios. For five short years - till 1933 - Kurt Gerron is one of the show business celebrities of his age. Kurt Gerron is also a Jew. He is forced to emigrate by the Nazis. First he flees to Paris and later to Amsterdam where he finds a new home and becomes one of the most important directors of the Dutch cinema. He is rounded up in Amsterdam and deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. Here, in the so-called VIP camp, he directs his own cabaret The Karussell. The Nazis even offer him the "chance" to make a film, with the promise of a huge reward: survival. All he has to do is to direct a "documentary" film depicting the life of leisure enjoyed by Jews in the Nazi concentration camps. Gerron has no choice.

Ilona Ziok's musical documentary film is a celebration of the talents and achievements of a man who lived - and died - for show business. It's a fascinating and moving tribute to one of the great forgotten showmen of our time.


Ilona Ziok was born in Gliwice/Poland and grew up in England, Germany and France. She studied in New York, Moscow and Frankfurt. Also active as a writer and producer, her films as an author and director include the documentaries: Der zweite Sieg des Jurij Vlasov (1989), Du mein Kazimierz, Shalom (1990), Wo ist die Strasse, wo ist das Haus (1991), Die Reise nach Tunesien: Psychisch Kranke machen Urlaub (1993), Kurt Gerrons Karussell (1999), The Sounds of Silents - Willy Sommerfeld, der Stummfilmpianist, 2006), Der Junker und der Kommunist (2009), and Fritz Bauer - Tod auf Raten (2010).
Genre Biopic
Category Documentary
Year of Production 1999
Director Ilona Ziok
Screenplay Ilona Ziok
Cinematography Jacek Blawut, Heiko Merten, Aike Fricke
Christina Graff, Erik Mischijew, Silke Regele
Cast Ben Becker, Ute Lemper, Max Raabe, Bente Kahan, Ursula Ofner, Schall & Hauch
Producers Ilona Ziok, Thomas Mertens, Frank Roumen, Vera Lastuvkova
Production Companies ARTE, SFB/Berlin, Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, Vera Vista/Prag
Length 65 min
Format 35 mm, color
Dubbed Versions German, French
Original Version
 German/English/French/Czech
Festivals Berlin 1999 (Panorama), Telluride 1999, Munich 1999, Sydney 1999, Sao Paulo 1999, Los Angeles 1999, London 1999, Huesca 2005
Awards Special Award Munich 1999
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg, MAP tv, Filmbuero NW, Eurimages
German Distributor Salzgeber & Co. Medien