Distant Lights

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For other uses, see Distant Lights (disambiguation).
Distant Lights
Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid
Produced by Jakob Claussen, Thomas Wöbke
Written by Michael Gutmann, Hans-Christian Schmid
Starring Iwan Shwedoff
Devid Striesow
Alice Dwyer
Zbigniew Zamachowski
Maria Simon
Michael Gerber
Herbert Knaup
August Diehl
Henry Hübchen
Music by The Notwist
Cinematography Bogumil Godfrejów
Edited by Bernd Schlegel, Hansjörg Weißbrich
Distributed by Universal
Release dates 31 July 2003
Running time 105 minutes
Language German, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian

Distant Lights is a 2003 Germany film directed by Hans-Christian Schmid. The film takes place on the Polish-German border at Słubice and Frankfurt (Oder). It features an ensemble cast, and the various threads illustrate the daily life between the two countries. Its original German title is Lichter, which means "Lights".


Unlike many ensemble films, the subplots of the film mostly do not interconnect with each other, and the film ends without a finale. Instead, the story threads illustrate life on the border between two countries; what appears to be poverty and desperation to some is a promised land for others, worth risking their lives to reach. The threads are:

  • Kolya, a Ukrainian, has paid to be smuggled into Germany illegally; he finds he has been left on the Polish side of the border. When he is caught, a German interpreter agrees to smuggle him herself; he reaches Berlin.
  • Ingo, a German mattress salesman, finds business in Frankfurt to be minimal and the people self-interested. He is humiliated and becomes desperate, but may have found love in Simone.
  • Antoni, a Polish taxi driver, struggles to find the money to buy a communion dress for his daughter. By the time he is able to afford it, he is too late. (This subplot pays homage to Ken Loach's film Raining Stones and Mike Leigh's All or Nothing.)
  • Philip, a young German architect, runs into his Polish former girlfriend Beata while working on a building project in Słubice. Neither the romance nor the project works out.
  • Anna and Dimitri, a young Ukrainian couple, are swindled out of their money and try with Antoni's help to cross the river Oder, almost drowning in the attempt.
  • Andreas, a young German orphan who smuggles cigarettes, attempts to take the money and run away with a girl from the children's home.



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