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East Germany, 1963 (MIFF 1965)

Director: Frank Beyer

The most naturalistic films about the last war have come from the Communist countries — Czechoslo­vakia, Poland, Russia, and now, East Germany. The Iron Curtain countries view it with grey disillusion­ment.

Frank Beyers powerful narrative tells of the last weeks at Buchenwald before its liberation by the Americans. A Polish prisoner, arriving with a trans­port from Auschwitz, conceals a child in his suit­case. The Camp underground movement agrees to shield the boy. News of the child's presence eventually reaches the German commanders, but none will tell where the child is hidden. Finally, with the Americans only a few miles away, the prisoners rise against their captors.

This intelligent, bitter film was adapted by Bruno Apitz who was actually a prison inmate. The intrigues of this world within a world have an authentic ring: the script is rich, and etches in a gallery of characters. The film amounts to a sober, unsensationalised account of what life was like when freedom and sudden death were both agonisingly near.

Best Direction, Moscow Restival.

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