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photo courtesy of Bavaria Film International

To some it's the end of the world. To others, the gateway to a new life: the river Oder between Poland and Germany. Vibrant with expectancy, it's a magnet for people from all walks of life on their journey towards happiness, security, and a better life. It's a place where Ukrainian refugees beg and bargain for entry to the "golden West" and pin all their hopes on Polish help… A place where a hapless businessman loses everything he owns but gains something more important… Where a teen-aged cigarette smuggler defies his father and brother to free the girl he loves from a detention center… Where an interpreter risks her career and her freedom to help an illegal refugee… And where an architect meets his former girlfriend and discovers that they've both changed too much to find common ground for a new start. At this crossroads between two worlds, where the law of the land is that of self-preservation, men and women struggle to maintain their dignity and their values as they are stripped to the raw core of their existence. Yet even in this often hostile climate, love and compassion blossom in the most unexpected ways. And although some hopes and dreams are doomed, others come to pass with the quiet joy of a small and humble miracle.

With tender realism and humanity, DISTANT LIGHTS captures the lives of people seeking their footing in a world of moral ambiguity.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2003
Director Hans-Christian Schmid
Screenplay Michael Gutmann, Hans-Christian Schmid
Cinematography Bogumil Godfrejów
Hansjörg Weißbrich
The Notwist
Christian M. Goldbeck
Cast Zbigniew Zamachowski, Maria Simon, Devid Striesow, Sebastian Urzendowsky, August Diehl
Producers Georg Steinert, Daniel Blum, Uli Putz, Thomas Wöbke, Jakob Claussen
Production Company Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion, in co-production with ZDF, ARTE
Runtime 105 min
Format 35 mm, color
Subtitled Versions English, Italian, French, Russian
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Berlin 2003 (in competition), Karlovy Vary 2003 (Horizons), Montreal 2003 (Cinema of Europe), Pusan 2003, Warsaw 2003 (opening film), Ghent/Flanders 2003 (in competition), London 2003, Tribeca 2003, Seattle 2003, Galway 2003, Melbourne 2003, Athens 2003, Haifa 2003, Sao Paulo 2003, Havana 2003, Manaki Brothers Camera Festival Macedonia 2003, Rotterdam 2004, Sevilla 2004, Festroia 2014, Muestra de Cine Europeo Ciudad de Segovia 2014
Awards FIPRESCI Award Berlin 2003, German Film Award 2003 (Silver), Bronze Camera 300 Macedonia 2003
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM
German Distributor Prokino Filmverleih/Munich

World Sales
Bavaria Media International