A delicate treatment of the 1988 air-show disaster from the perspective of those affected.
The accident during an air show at the Ramstein Air Base in the summer of 1988 is one of the greatest tragedies in German postwar history. Against the backdrop of the fateful collision of two stunt aircraft on “Open Day” at the American air base, this film tells the fictionalized story of four families — visitors to the air show who lost their loved ones in the horrific inferno and a paramedic who cannot forget the sight of the dead and injured. They all suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Years after the disaster, they finally have the opportunity to share their experiences and come to terms with the trauma in a special support group. Meanwhile, two government investigators look into the accident and uncover massive failures in safety precautions and rescue measures. Suspecting political responsibility on both the German and American sides, they come up against a wall of silence.
Meet the director
Kai Wessel, born in Hamburg in 1961, is a multiple award-winning television and film director. His directorial debut, MARTHA JELLNECK (1988), was nominated for a German Film Award. Motion pictures including DAS SOMMERALBUM (1991), DIE SPUR DER ROTEN FÄSSER (1996), DAS JAHR DER ERSTEN KÜSSE (2002), and the Hildegard Knef biopic HILDE (2009), followed. His directing work for television includes the series KLEMPERER – EIN LEBEN IN DEUTSCHLAND (1999), the psychodrama LEBEN WÄRE SCHÖN with Dagmar Manzel (awarded two Grimme-Preise for best director and best lead actress), the TV movie HAT ER ARBEIT? (which received, among other awards, the VFF TV-Movie Award at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2001), the award-winning Spreewald crime series MÖRDERISCHE HITZE (2014), and the series ZEIT DER HELDEN (2013, earning the German Television Award and the Grimme-Preis). For his feature film NEBEL IM AUGUST, Wessel received the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Films at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2016 and earned the Bavarian Film Award for best director. He has continued directing for television, most recently the Tatort episode SARAS GESTÄNDNIS (2022). Wessel’s motion-picture documentary CICERO – ZWEI LEBEN, EINE BÜHNE appeared in German theaters in spring 2022.