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Valley of the Innocent (Tal der Ahnungslosen)

Valley of the Innocent
Nisma Cherrat (photo © teamWorx)

Shortly before her 40th birthday, police officer Eva Meyer is transferred from Frankfurt to Dresden. Eva was raised in an orphanage in Dresden, so the return forces her to deal with her past. It is a dazed curiosity with which she starts the quest for her parents. She is anxious and afraid at the same time about what she will discover.

Eva starts looking in her former orphanage and in the “Stasi-Archives”, where information from the East-German secret police is collected. A puzzle starts to unfold in front of her, and she slowly puts the information about her parents together. Her birth was the result of a one night stand her mother Helga had with one of her husband’s (Hans) students, a Kenyan student named Shepard. However, the affair could not be kept secret, since Helga gave birth to a black child nine months later. The university used the scandal as a pretext to frighten the already shaken Hans into becoming a government agent. In exchange, the government saw to it that Shepard was expelled from the university and deported.

After Eve has put the pieces together and sees the entire picture, she wants to meet her mother. But her courage fails her. Feeling humiliated and rejected all over again, she decides to take the information she has gathered and pass it on to her mother anonymously.

When Helga receives the package, she is confronted with a truth that she has suppressed for years: her own husband was a Stasi operative and passed on information about her to the state. After a fight with Hans, Helga runs out of the house. But what she does not see is that the fight has led to an accident; Hans has fallen into the garden pond and drowned.

A dead body, a missing mother: this time Eva has to search for Helga again, but now she is the police officer in charge of investigating a potential homicide. Still, too many questions remain open, the pain is still there, the encounter of mother and daughter is long overdue.


Branwen Okpako was born in 1969 in Nigeria. She studied Political Science in England, followed by studies in Film Direction at the German Film & Television Academy Berlin (dffb). Her films include: the shorts PROBE (1992), VORSPIEL (1994), LANDING (1995), SEARCHING FOR TAID (1997) and LOVELOVELIEBE (1998), and the features DIRT FOR DINNER (DRECKFRESSER, 2000, winner of the Bavarian documentary film prize The Young Lion and First Prize at the Dubrovnik Documentary Film Festival in 2001), VALLEY OF THE INNOCENT (TAL DER AHNUNGSLOSEN, 2003), and THE EDUCATION OF AUMA OBAMA (DIE GESCHICHTE DER AUMA OBAMA, 2011).
Genre Drama
Category TV Movie
Year of Production 2003
Director Branwen Okpako
Screenplay Branwen Okpako
Cinematography Andreas Höfer
Monika Schindler
Dunja Osiander
Cast Nisma Cherrat, Kirsten Block, Angelica Domröse, Florian Panzner, Johannes Brandrup, Marianna Linden, Jean-Claude Mawila, Jonathan Kinsler
Producers Joachim Kosack, Jon Handschin
Production Company teamWorx/Berlin
Length 85 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby Stereo
Festivals Toronto 2003 (Planet Africa), Berlin 2004 (Perspectives German Cinema)
With backing from German Federal Film Board, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung

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