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PHOENIX

PHOENIX
photo © Christian Schulz/Schramm Film

June, 1945. Badly injured, her face destroyed, Auschwitz survivor Nelly returns to her hometown, Berlin. She’s accompanied by Lene, a Jewish Agency employee and Nelly’s friend from pre-war days.

Having barely recovered from facial surgery, Nelly ignores Lene’s warnings and sets out to find her husband, Johnny – the love of her life who, by refusing to abandon their marriage, protected her from Nazi persecution for so long.

Nelly’s family has been murdered in the Holocaust. Johnny is convinced that his wife, too, is dead. When Nelly finally tracks him down, he recognizes nothing but an unnerving resemblance and doesn’t believe it could really be her. Hoping to secure her family’s inheritance, Johnny suggests to Nelly that she take on the identity of his late wife.

Nelly agrees: She becomes her own imposter. She wants to know whether Johnny loved her – and whether he betrayed her. Nelly wants her old life back.


Christian Petzold was born in Hilden in 1960 and has lived in Berlin since 1981. He studied German Language and Literature before studying at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB) from 1988 to 1994. His highly-acclaimed films include: PILOTINNEN (1995), CUBA LIBRE (1996), DIE BLEISCHLAFDIEBIN (1998), THE STATE I AM IN (DIE INNERE SICHERHEIT, 2000), SOMETHING TO REMIND ME (TOTER MANN, 2001), WOLFSBURG (2002), GHOSTS (GESPENSTER, 2004), YELLA (2006), JERICHOW (2008), DREILEBEN - BEATS BEING DEAD (DREILEBEN - ETWAS BESSERES ALS DEN TOD, 2011), BARBARA (2012), PHOENIX (2014), and TRANSIT (2018).
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2014
Director Christian Petzold
Screenplay Christian Petzold
Cinematography Hans Fromm
Cast Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Producers Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber
Production Company Schramm Film Koerner & Weber/Berlin, in co-production with Bayerischer Rundfunk, WDR, ARTE
Length 98 min
Format 35 mm, DCP, color, cs
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Festivals Toronto 2014, San Sebastian 2014, BFI London 2014 (In Competition), Vancouver 2014, Viennale 2014, Thessaloniki 2014, Muestra de Cine Europeo Ciudad de Segovia 2014, Black Nights Tallinn 2014, Lisbon & Esotril Film Festival 2014, Dubai 2014, Miami 2014, Sofia 2015, FEST Belgrade 2015, Istanbul 2015, Hong Kong 2015, Sydney 2015, Seattle 2015, Melbourne 2015, Sarajevo 2015, SANFIC 2015, Camerimage 2015, Odessa 2016, Jerusalem 2018
Awards FIPRESCI Award San Sebastian 2014, Special Jury Award Joåo Bénard da Costa Lisbon & Esotril Film Festival 2014, SIGNIS AWARD: Special Mention Hong Kong 2015, German Film Award 2015 (Best Supporting Actress)
With backing from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, BKM, German Federal Film Board, German Federal Film Fund
German Distributor Piffl Medien/Berlin

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