Rated Parental Guidance
Dir: Michael Bully Herbi, Germany, 2018
Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross
In German with English subtitles and some English.
Audience Award Winner, Washington DC Filmfest
“In the opening sequence of Balloon, we are reminded that between 1976 and 1988, some 38,000 people tried and failed to cross the Berlin Wall. 462 lost their lives in the attempt. Balloon tells the true story of one family's daring escape plan. It is an engrossing mixture of adventure yarn and methodical police procedural that generates moments of pulse-racing tension and captures a sense of a country where paranoia reigns and nobody can be trusted. Peter Strelzyk, his wife Doris and their two children make their bid for freedom one dark night in a hand-sewn hot-air balloon. They take to the skies and drift towards the West before plummeting to earth, agonizingly close to the border. Hastily covering their traces, they try to resume a normal life whilst secretly preparing for a second attempt. Thomas Kretschmann is a charismatic presence as Seidel, the philosophical Stasi officer assigned to the case. There is a flavour of Michael Mann in the way the film charts his methodical pursuit of the family. Evidence is retrieved, leads are followed and witnesses quizzed as Seidel starts to tighten the net... Every neighbour is a potential informer. Any careless conversation might cost lives. There is also a sense of the bittersweet sacrifices required to leave loved ones behind for a trip into the unknown.“ – Allan Hunter, The List