Sun Seekers

(Sonnensucher)

GDR, 1958/1971, 116 min, B&W
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Editor
Camera
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)
Special Effects
Cast

Synopsis

A socialist story of "atoms for peace" and compulsory labor in an East German uranium mine under Soviet control. Two young women are arrested after a bar room brawl in 1950 and sentenced to work in the Wismut uranium mines. As chaotic as a Wild West goldrush town, their new home is full of characters with unusual destinies – old anarchists working next to former members of the SS and Russian officers.
 
Sun Seekers was banned in 1958 at the urging of the USSR, in part because it is about Soviet-German relations and the mining of uranium to support the nuclear arms race in East Germany's Wismut region.

Commentary

Encouraged by the "thaw" promised by the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, in this film Konrad Wolf presents a highly dramatic and differentiated view of the Nazi past, Stalinist political practices and the energetic chaos of the early postwar period. The film's style combines Wolf's Russian sensibilities with echoes of Italian neo-realism and Pabst's Kameradschaft (1931). It impresses even today with its political complexity, variety of characters and realistic portrayal of daily work in a top secret zone of the industrial landscape.  

 

Releasing this banned film became one of Wolf's first priorities when a new regime took over in the GDR in 1972. In 1989, the film was revived again along with other banned films, as part of DEFA's best – if thwarted – tradition.

Press comments

"Sunseekers—a symbolic, key-note title of one of Konrad Wolf's early films. Symbolic in two respects. First, as regards the thousands of people streaming to the uranium mines in the Erz Mountains to make a new start. They were seeking sun for their own lives and the 'solar energy from the power of the atom'.. .the plot is history, a gripping copy of a tough new start almost impossible to accomplish. Nothing is white-washed, which is precisely why this film is valuable as an artistic reproduction of a historical process."
— Gerd Focke in the Halle Freiheit on Sept. 7, 1972

Availability

Special features:
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Introductory Essay
  • Eyewitness: 3 Newsreels about Konrad Wolf
  • Eyewitness: 14 Newsreels about Günther Simon, Erwin Geschonneck & other cast members
  • Photo Gallery
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Short Film: Wismut Today

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