(2010, directed by Hans-Christian Schmid, 1hr 45 minutes)
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The winner of the FIPRESCI prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, Lichter plays like a German Short Cuts. If Altman's cinematic short story collection was given unity by its origin in Raymond Carver's dark fables of the disempowered American male, then Distant Lights - whose original script has no literary parentage - finds its common thread in the theme of the border: specifically, the German-Polish border, one of the European Union's more permeable frontiers. The film takes its artistic inspiration from both sides: from the modern German tradition, director Schmid takes a certain over-staged approach to social realism; from Poland, an eagerness to plug into those big ethical themes that Kieslowski specialised in. Although most of the talent (including new German heartthrob August Diehl) will be recognised only at home, the film is strong enough in its own right to add other overseas territories to the Russian and Mexican deals clinched at Berlin.