Sie nannten ihn Amigo

They Called Him Amigo
Germany, 1939. A 13-year-old boy from Berlin, Rainer Meister, known as Amigo, finds a man in the junk room of the cellar in the back courtyard. This is Pepp, a political prisoner who has fled a concentration camp. Born into a family of working-class communists, Amigo is well aware of the danger involved in helping Pepp. Nevertheless, help he does; he also makes his two confidants, his younger brother and friend, swear to remain silent. But the friend confides in his father. The latter, a self-satisfied, cowardly Nazi sympathiser, eventually becomes a denunciator.
Sie nannten ihn Amigo (They Called Him Amigo) is being screened on the occasion of the presentation of the 2019 Heiner Carow Prize. Since 2013, this award, sponsored by the DEFA Foundation, has been bestowed on a German documentary, feature or essay film screening in the Panorama section. This year’s jury members are Henrika Kull (filmmaker and producer), Maren Liese (from the legal department of the DEFA Foundation) and Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss (actor and director).
This film is shown with German subtitles for the hearing-impaired and with German audio description. German sign language interpretation and German audio description is provided for the ceremony. No English subtitles are provided for this screening.
by Heiner Carow
with Ernst-Georg Schwill, Fred Düren, Erich Franz, Angelika Hurwicz, Wilhelm Koch-Hooge, Dietmar Simon, Bernd Trewendt, Peter Kalisch, Heinz Schröder, Heinz Schubert, Hans Klering, Siegfried Fromm
German Democratic Republic 1958 German 62’ Colour & Black/White


  • Ernst-Georg Schwill (Rainer „Amigo“ Meister)
  • Fred Düren (Peter „Pepp“ Grosse)
  • Erich Franz (Vater Sinewski)
  • Angelika Hurwicz (Marta Meister)
  • Wilhelm Koch-Hooge (Walter Meister)
  • Dietmar Simon (Axel „Sine“ Sinewski)
  • Bernd Trewendt (Horst „Hotta“ Meister)
  • Peter Kalisch (Gestapo-Man I)
  • Heinz Schröder (Gestapo-Man II)
  • Heinz Schubert (Gestapo-Man III)
  • Hans Klering (Gasman)
  • Siegfried Fromm (Railworker)


Director Heiner Carow
Screenplay Heiner Carow, Claus Küchenmeister, Wera Küchenmeister
Dramaturgy Eleonore Schmidt-Schwarze
Cinematography Helmut Bergmann
Camera Assistant Peter Süring
Editing Ilse Peters
Music Kurt Schwaen
Sound Werner Klein
Production Design Willy Schiller
Costumes Dorit Gründel
Make-Up Hanns Wosnik
Assistant Director Hanna Georgi
Production Manager Paul Ramacher

World sales

Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen

Produced by

DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme

Heiner Carow

Born in Rostock in 1929, he died in Berlin in 1997. At 21 he joined the directing class at the DEFA training school in East Berlin. Following numerous short documentaries, he transferred to the DEFA feature film studio. He directed successful children's and youth films and, from the 1970s, feature films for adults. Die Legende von Paul und Paula (1972/73) became his greatest success. He won the Silver Bear at the 1990 Berlinale for Coming Out.


1953 Ein Schritt weiter; short documentary · Ein Schritt weiter; short documentary 1954 Dorf im Herbst; short documentary · Dorf im Herbst; short documentary · Der Strukturbohrer [Jg.1954 / Folge 06]; short documentary, co-director: Alfred Siegert, Lothar Devaal · Die Wette gilt; short documentary · Die Wette gilt; short documentary · Forschen und Schaffen. Folge VI; short documentary, Co-director: Alfred Siegert, Lothar Devaal 1956 Martins Tagebuch; short documentary · Martins Tagebuch; short documentary 1957 Sheriff Teddy · Sheriff Teddy 1959 Sie nannten ihn Amigo · Sie nannten ihn Amigo 1960 Das Leben beginnt · Das Leben beginnt 1961 Mongolia; documentary · Mongolia; documentary 1964 Die Hochzeit von Länneken · Die Hochzeit von Länneken 1966 Die Reise nach Sundevit · Die Reise nach Sundevit 1968 Die Russen kommen; Forbidden film, premiere in 1987 · Die Russen kommen; Forbidden film, premiere in 1987 1971 Karriere · Karriere 1973 Die Legende von Paul und Paula · Die Legende von Paul und Paula 1975 Ikarus · Ikarus 1978 Bis daß der Tod euch scheidet · Bis daß der Tod euch scheidet 1989 Coming out · Coming out · Zweiradshow; short documentary, co-director: Jürgen Voigt · Zweiradshow; short documentary, co-director: Jürgen Voigt 1992 Verfehlung · Verfehlung

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020