In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts

In Times of Fading Light
East Berlin in the early autumn of 1989. Wilhelm Powileit is grinning and bearing his 90th birthday with stoic indifference. There’s not much the old man hasn’t seen. A staunch communist for the past 75 years, he fled from Nazi Germany and lived in exile in Mexico. Meanwhile his stepson Kurt was arrested in Moscow as an alleged counter-revolutionary. After his return to East Germany, Wilhelm had only limited possibilities of a party career in the SED due to being an ‘émigré from the West’. But today the Young Pioneers are serenading him and he is being decorated with medals. Whilst Wilhelm vehemently denies that his ideal of a better world was nothing but a fantasy and that the high hopes of yesteryear have been smothered by bureaucracy and fear, the younger generation is leaving the country. And cracks have appeared in his own family that are also beyond repair ...
Screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase, who last took part in the Berlinale Competition with Als wir träumten (As We Were Dreaming) turns Eugen Ruge’s best-selling novel into a study of lost dreams. A cinematic portrait of society which uses the story of a disintegrating family to retrace the course of the twentieth century.
by Matti Geschonneck
with Bruno Ganz, Sylvester Groth, Hildegard Schmahl, Evgenia Dodina, Natalia Belitski, Alexander Fehling, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Angela Winkler, Alexander Hörbe, Thorsten Merten
Germany 2017 German, Russian 100’ Colour


  • Bruno Ganz (Wilhelm Powileit)
  • Sylvester Groth (Kurt Umnitzer)
  • Hildegard Schmahl (Charlotte Powileit)
  • Evgenia Dodina (Irina Umnitzer)
  • Natalia Belitski (Melitta)
  • Alexander Fehling (Sascha Umnitzer)
  • Gabriela Maria Schmeide (Lisbeth)
  • Angela Winkler (Stine Spier)
  • Alexander Hörbe (Mählich)
  • Thorsten Merten (Tabbert)


Director Matti Geschonneck
Screenplay Wolfgang Kohlhaase adapted from the eponymous novel by Eugen Ruge
Cinematography Hannes Hubach
Editing Dirk Grau
Sound Design Linus Nickl
Sound Rainer Plabst
Production Design Bernd Lepel
Costumes Sabine Greunig
Make-Up Grit Kosse, Uta Spikermann
Assistant Director Tim Wustrack
Casting Simone Bär
Production Manager Ute Schnelting
Producers Oliver Berben, Sarah Kirkegaard
Co-Production Reinhold Elschot, Stefanie von HeywolffZDF Mainz

Matti Geschonneck

Born in Potsdam, Germany in 1952, he is the son of actors Erwin Geschonneck and Hannelore Wüst. He was forced to break off his directing studies at the Eisenstein Institute in Moscow after four years because he refused to distance himself from the exiled Wolf Biermann. In 1978 he emigrated to West Germany and worked as an assistant for directors including Thomas Langhoff and Eberhard Fechner. After making his feature debut in 1992, he directed over 30 award-winning TV films. His tragicomedy Boxhagener Platz, with which he returned to the cinema in 2010, premiered in the Berlinale Special.

Filmography (selection)

1991 Fraktur 1992 Moebius 1993 Berlin – beste Lage 1994 Die Sache Baryschna 1995 Matulla und Busch 1996 Angeschlagen 1997 Der Schrei der Liebe 1998 Reise in die Nacht 2000 Ganz unten, ganz oben · Jenseits der Liebe 2001 Späte Rache 2002 Wer liebt, hat Recht 2005 Die Nachrichten 2006 Silberhochzeit 2007 Duell in der Nacht 2008 Zeit zu leben 2009 Entführt 2010 Hinter blinden Fenstern · Boxhagener Platz 2011 Der Verdacht · Liebesjahre 2012 Das Ende der Nacht 2013 Tod einer Polizistin 2014 Das Zeugenhaus 2015 Ein großer Aufbruch · Der verlorene Bruder 2017 In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (In Times of Fading Light)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017