Helle Nächte

Bright Nights
Austrian civil engineer Michael lives with his girlfriend in Berlin. For years, he has barely had any contact with his 14-year-old son Luis. When Michael’s father dies the two nonetheless travel together to the funeral which is held in the remote north of Norway. At the deceased’s secluded home Michael begins to pack up his late father’s personal items – watched in silence by his son. Two people who barely know each other are suddenly caught in an intimate situation. After the funeral, Michael surprises Luis by suggesting that they spend a few days together exploring the region. A road movie begins that is also a journey into their non-existent shared past. Being together turns out to be more difficult than expected. Never having spent any time with each other on a daily basis, they have trouble handling their relationship. Whilst Michael glosses over this situation, Luis can't hide how hurt he is. His father’s long years of absence stand between them like a wall. When they are in the car together it feels like the calm before a storm. During the long days of the summer solstice, days when the sun never sets, Michael tries to break the repetitive cycle and find a joint way forward.
by Thomas Arslan
with Georg Friedrich, Tristan Göbel, Marie Leuenberger, Hanna Karlberg
Germany / Norway 2017 German, English 86’ Colour


  • Georg Friedrich (Michael)
  • Tristan Göbel (Luis)
  • Marie Leuenberger (Leyla)
  • Hanna Karlberg (Cecilia)


Written and Directed by Thomas Arslan
Cinematography Reinhold Vorschneider
Editing Reinaldo Pinto Almeida
Music Ola Fløttum
Sound Design Jochen Jezussek, Christian Obermaier, Tormod Ringnes
Sound Andreas Mücke-Niesytka
Production Design Reinhild Blaschke
Costumes Anette Guther
Make-Up Krisztina Szántó-Konthur
Assistant Director Cavo Kernich
Casting Ulrike Müller, Nina Erdahl
Production Manager Elisa Fernanda Pirir
Producers Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber
Co-Producers Maria Ekerhovd, Svein Andersen, Kjetil Jensberg
Commissioning Editor Andrea Hanke
Co-Production mer FILM Bergen
FilmCamp Overbygd
WDR Köln

Thomas Arslan

Born in Braunschweig, Germany in 1962, he lived in Essen until 1967 and then attended primary school in Ankara, Turkey. Returning to Essen in 1971, he completed school in 1982. After serving the community alternative to military service in Hamburg, he spent a year in Munich, studying German and history for two semesters. He then took a number of film internships and, from 1986 to 1992, studied film at the DFFB in Berlin. Starting with his feature-length debut Turn Down the Music, his films have been invited to the Berlinale on several occasions, with films including Dealer, A Fine Day, From Far Away and In the Shadows screening in the Forum, and Gold and Bright Nights premiering in the Competition.

Filmography (selection)

1985 Eine Nacht, ein Morgen; short film 1989 Risse; medium-length film 1990 19 Porträts; short film 1991 Am Rand; short film 1992 Im Sommer; medium-length film 1993 Mach die Musik leiser (Turn Down the Music) 1996 Geschwister (Brothers and Sisters) 1998 Dealer 2001 Der schöne Tag (A Fine Day) 2005 Aus der Ferne (From Far Away) 2007 Ferien (Vacation) 2010 Im Schatten (In the Shadows) 2013 Gold 2017 Helle Nächte (Bright Nights) 2024 Verbrannte Erde (Scorched Earth)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024