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Stars (Sterne)

Scene from "Stars" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek)

People are crushed into a freight wagon, the train starts moving, a German soldier is seen running after the train as it disappears into the night. A voice off-stage asks "Why are we digging up the past again?" The answer lies in this story, told in the form of a flashback. It is set in a small Bulgarian town in 1943.

Walter, a young German officer, spends a few quiet weeks in this occupied country far from the front lines. He has even learned a few morsels of this foreign language. He is not a fanatical soldier by any means, gets on well with the local people and pursues his hobby while on duty as well as off, although his captain has already admonished him about his drawings on one occasion. A convoy of Jewish prisoners arrives. One of the prisoners is Ruth, a young woman who asks him to help a pregnant woman. "All Germans are the same, they are all wolves," says Ruth when Walter appears unwilling to help at first. Initially unaware of the prisoners’ fate, he asks his friend Kurt: "What is Auschwitz?" He is better informed and replies: "A place of no return!" Walter is shaken by Ruth’s accusation and her probable fate which he begins to suspect with a fair degree of certainty. Walter wants to help her escape. However, his friend Kurt has not told him the truth about the prisoners' departure and his preparations are too late. All he sees is the departing train.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 1959
Director Konrad Wolf
Screenplay Angel Wagenstein
Cinematography Werner Bergmann
Christa Wernicke
José Sancha
Cast Sascha Kruscharska, Juergen Frohriep, Erik S. Klein, Stefan Pejtschew, Georgi Naumow, Ivan Kondow, Milka Tujkowa
Producers Siegfried Nuernberger, Wyltscho Draganow
Production Companies DEFA Studios/Potsdam-Babelsberg, Studio fuer Spielfilme/Sofia
Length 92 min
Format 35 mm, b&w
Original Version
Subtitled Versions English, French, Spanish
Sound Technology Optical
Festivals Cannes 1959, Edinburgh 1959, Weltfestspiele der Jugend und Studenten Vienna 1959, Melbourne 1960, Sydney 1960, Ophuels Festival Saarbruecken 1995, San Francicso Jewish Film Festival 1997, Moscow 2005
Awards Special Jury Prize Cannes 1959, Gold Medal Vienna 1959
German Distributor PROGRESS Film-Verleih/Berlin

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