April 6 | 07:15 pm
(Q&A: Matti Geschonneck)
April 7 | 01:00 pm
(Q&A: Matti Geschonneck)


Please rate this film for the Audience Award

As the Iron Curtain prepares to fall, an elderly Communist patriarch must come to terms with fragmentations both political and familial. Based on the 2011 bestseller by Eugen Ruge.

It is early fall in 1989 and family members, friends and local Communist Party officials have assembled at the stately suburban East Berlin home of Wilhelm Powileit (Bruno Ganz) to mark his 90th birthday. A member of the Council of Ministers of the GDR awards the esteemed former resistance fighter with the Star of Peoples’ Friendship in Gold. As others line up obediently to present him with floral bouquets, Powileit scoffs, “Take the vegetables to the cemetery.” Cantankerous, stubborn and proud, the elderly patriarch remains a devout Stalinist who fails to see the political reality that his Communist utopia is now on the verge of collapse.

The formal celebration is marred when an old dinner table laden with the finest assortment of edibles from the Communist Eastern Bloc collapses. And while tensions with his middle-aged stepson Kurt and his long-suffering wife Charlotte roil beneath the surface, the superficial cheeriness of the event dissolves completely with the late arrival of Kurt’s Russian-born wife Irina. To assuage a life of bitter disappointment, she has taken to finding solace in the oblivion of vodka.  In a state of slightly veiled drunken aggression, Irina announces that her son Sascha has abandoned his country and defected to the capitalist West in pursuit of the very freedoms his family had raised him to deplore.

Adapted from Eugen Ruge’s semi-autobiographical 2011 bestseller, IN TIMES OF FADING LIGHT not only keenly observes the final stages of the fragmentation of a single family but also mirrors the twilight of a seemingly nurturing but ultimately derelict political system.


Genre Drama
Category Feature
Director Matti Geschonneck
Screenplay Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Cinematography Hannes Hubach
Cast Bruno Ganz, Hildegard Schmahl, Sylvester Groth, Alexander Fehling, Natalia Belitski, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Angela Winkler, Thorsten Merten, Evgenia Dodina
Producers Oliver Berben, Sarah Kirkegaard
Production Companies MOOVIE/Berlin, in co-production with ZDF/Mainz
Length 100 min
Festivals Berlinale 2017 (Berlinale Special), CPH PIX 2017, Haifa 2017, Cork 2017, Black Nights Tallinn 2017


Matti Geschonneck was born May 8, 1952, son of well-known Brechtian and DEFA actor Erwin Geschonneck in Potsdam and studied directing at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. Moving to West Germany in 1978, he started gathering initial practical experiences

working as a directorial assistant for many years. In the early nineties, Geschonneck made his cinematic directorial debut with the surreal mystery drama MOEBIUS. After that, he dedicated himself to the small screen and over 18 years directed many multi-award-winning features. His thriller ANGST HAT EINE KALTE HAND received the Special Prize for Directing of the Deutsche Akademie für Darstellende Künste. He is a two-time winner of the Deutscher Fernsehpreis (German Television Award), most recently in 2013 for DAS ENDE EINER NACHT. He received the Student Jury Award at the Television Film Festival in Baden- Baden in 2015 as well as the Goldene Kamera Award in 2016 for his production EIN GROSSER AUFBRUCH.


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