Bürgschaft für ein Jahr

On Probation
“I can’t live without my children!” It is the cry of a desperate mother when Nina Kern, in her late 20s, has her three children taken away from her by a court order. They have been living in a children’s home for four months. The young mother is accused of “neglect” and an “anti-social lifestyle”. The court grants Nina one last chance, appointing a civil engineer and a teacher from her neighbourhood as her guarantors. Will Nina be able to prove herself a fit parent? For her portrayal of Nina, Katrin Sass won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 1982 Berlinale.
Bürgschaft für ein Jahr is being presented barrier-free for the first time in the cinema with German subtitles for the hearing impaired and audio description as part of the Heiner Carow Prize ceremony. The award, endowed with 5,000 euros, is presented by the DEFA Foundation and goes to a first or second, predominantly German documentary or feature film made by a filmmaker currently based and working in Germany. This year’s jury comprises Evelyn Schmidt (director), Cem Kaya (director) and Linda Söffker (DEFA Foundation).
by Herrmann Zschoche
with Katrin Sass, Monika Lennartz, Jaecki Schwarz, Jan Spitzer, Christian Steyer
German Democratic Republic 1981 German 94' Colour, 2K DCP


  • Katrin Sass (Nina)
  • Monika Lennartz (Irmgard Behrend)
  • Jaecki Schwarz (Peter Müller)
  • Jan Spitzer (Werner Horn)
  • Christian Steyer (Heiner Menk)
  • Heide Kipp (Mrs. Braun)
  • Barbara Dittus (Head of children's home)
  • Ursula Werner (Mrs. Müller)


DirectorHerrmann Zschoche
ScreenplayHerrmann Zschoche
CinematographyGünter Jaeuthe
EditingMonika Schindler
MusicGünther Fischer
Sound DesignHelga Kadenbach
SoundKlaus Tolstorf
CostumesAnne Hoffmann
Production DesignDieter Adam
Make-UpKurt Tauchmann, Christa Grewald
ProducerDorothea Hildebrandt
Executive ProducerDorothea Hildebrandt

Produced by

DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme

Potsdam-Babelsberg, German Democratic Republic

World Sales

Deutsche Kinemathek

Berlin, Germany

Herrmann Zschoche

Born in Dresden, Germany in 1934, he began working as an assistant and cameraman in East German television. In 1959, he graduated in directing at what is now the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and then worked as an assistant director at the DEFA feature film studios. He made his directorial debut in 1961 with The Fairy Tale Castle. His 1965 film Carla was banned and only publicly released in 1990. His most important writing partners have included Ulrich Plenzdorf and Christa Kožik. In 2019, he was awarded the Berlinale Camera.

Filmography (selection)

1961 Die Igelfreundschaft; Uprchlik · Das Märchenschloß (The Fairy Tale Castle) 1962 Das Stacheltier - Man lernt nie aus 1963 Lütt Matten und die weiße Muschel (Little Matten and the White Shell) 1964 Engel im Fegefeuer 1965 Karla (Carla) 1967 Leben zu zweit 1969 Weite Straßen - stille Liebe (Long Roads - Secret Love) 1972 Eolomea 1974 Liebe mit 16 1975 Philipp, der Kleine (Philipp the Small) 1977 Feuer unter Deck (Fire Below Deck) · Sieben Sommersprossen (Seven Freckles) 1979 Glück im Hinterhaus (Happiness in the Backyard) 1980 Und nächstes Jahr am Balaton (Next Year at Lake Balaton) 1981 Bürgschaft für ein Jahr (On Probation) 1982 Insel der Schwäne (Swan Island) 1984 Hälfte des Lebens (A Half of Life) 1987 Die Alleinseglerin (The Solo Sailer) 1988 Grüne Hochzeit 1990 Das Mädchen aus dem Fahrstuhl (The Girl in the Lift)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024


Heiner Carow Prize

Bürgschaft für ein Jahr

Thu Feb 22 16:00


Presentation of the Heiner Carow Prize prior to the screening | German closed captions | Audio description via App GRETA | Q&A with German sign language interpreter

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