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DISTANT LIGHTS

Germany, 2003 (MIFF 2003, International Panorama)

Director: Hans Christian Schmid

The winner of the FIPRESCI prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, Distant Lights is a tender humanist portrart of a group of people finding their way in a world of moral ambiguity.

The German-Polish border is marked by the Oder river and divides two very different towns— the relatively wealthy Frankfurt-on-Oder and its poorer Polish cousin, Sublice. The towns are populated by, and entice, a variety of characters, in search of happiness and understanding. There is Andreas, a forlorn, young cigarette smuggler tortured by an unrequited love; a Polish taxi driver, Antoni, who urgently needs money for his daughter's communion dress; three Ukranian refugees determined to smuggle themselves across the river; Sonja, a German interpreter who risks her career and freedom to help an illegal immigrant; and Philip, a young architect who learns some hard lessons about love.

Director Hans-Christian Schmid has created a group of people, thrown together by fate, who deal with such universal themes of love, trust and betrayal, in a way that recalls Robert Altman's masterpiece Short Cuts.

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