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directed by: Urs Egger
produced by: Bernd Eichinger, Martin Moszkowicz
starring: Heiner Lauterbach, Franka Potente, Gudrun Landgrebe, Caroline Goodall, Frank Giering
2 x 90 minutes, based on the novel by Josef Haslinger, published by S. Fischer Verlag
Winner of the golden Nymph at the 39th Monte Carlo Television Festival - best Mini Series, silver Nymph - best Director
The private news channel ETV (European Television) has entrusted the well-known TV journalist Kurt Frazer (HEINER LAUTERBACH) with handling the live transmission of the most important social occasion in Austria: the Vienna opera ball. The program is broadcast throughout the whole of Europe. During the transmission the s inconceivable happens: people collapse and die in front of the camera as the result of a poison gas attack. Kurt, whose only son Fred is working in the opera as a cameraman, is, for the first time, himself part of the news. Fred is one of the victims. Kurt, driven by feelings of guilt and reproach, must organise his life anew.
Michel Rebouisson (RICHARD BOHRINGER), the top boss at ETV, asks Kurt to make a documentary from the exclusive material of the catastrophe. The next day, the police commissioner and his director of security Reso Dorf (WOLFGANG BÖCK) present the five assassins who were found dead , poisoned by their own gas, in the Burggraben in one of the underground passages leading to the opera's ventilation shaft. One of the young men was an American Mormon. Kurt's instinct tells him that the police have something to hide. Was there perhaps a warning, after all?
Kurt, who is torn apart by his mourning for his son and the conflicts with his ex-wife and mother of Fred, Heather (CAROLINE GOODALL), meets the young policeman Fritz Amon (ANDREAS LUST) who gives support to his hunch that the attack could have perhaps been prevented. He tells him about a strange discovery, a severed finger, which leads Kurt to the forbidden right-wing movement of "The Volksdeutsche".
Kurt is not going to be satisfied when the special unit declares the case closed. In the TV station's archive he meets the young, ambitious cub reporter Gabrielle (FRANKA POTENTE) who has come onto the same trail and wants to make a name for herself through the case. Kurt proposes that they work on the reportage together. Through the mother of the man with the severed finger, Feilböck (GEORG PROKOP), Kurt ends up at a deserted farmhouse in the sticks, the group's former meeting place. There is an unexpected encounter in the cellar....
Kurt and Gabrielle manage by means of a trick to obtain secret video material from the police, proof that mistakes were made. Rebouisson refuses to broadcast the documentary. He had expected a sentimental tragedy, not political dynamite where the police's mistakes are at the center of attention. There is a big row between Kurt and Gabrielle with her reproaching him as being a spineless creature.
Kurt is now torn between deciding to change his life completely or carrying on as before. Meeting Claudia Röhler (GUDRUN LANDGREBE), who is about the same age and whose father died in the gas attack, opens a new dimension for Kurt. Then a tip comes from Karl Feilböck's parents that their son might be found at a secret place on Majorca.
Kurt comes to a lonely house on the island but, instead of Feilböck, he finds a young man who was a member of the banned movement, the engineer (FRANK GIERING). The engineer threatens Kurt with a weapon, but thanks to skilful psychological manipulation, Kurt manages to get the engineer to talk. He reveals the story of his comrades and their charismatic leader Joe (TONIO ARANGO) who later calls himself "the least of all". The secret of Feilböck and his sudden disappearance is also cleared up. Kurt records everything the engineer tells him on tape. The engineer, whose nerves are totally frayed, is constantly close to shooting Kurt. The engineer, finally, also reveals a plot with one of the country's top police lawyers, Major Leitner, who allegedly supported Joe.
The engineer shoots himself when he realizes that he has also become a part of his leader's suicidal plan. Kurt flies back to Vienna. He has the tapes with him that could seriously incriminate Leitner, but he has hardly arrived at the airport before he is being detained and searched - by Leitner himself, who wants to get hold of the incriminating tapes. He threatens Kurt with arrest and takes the tapes off him. However, Kurt has already got his most important material to a safe place. Before he flies away to begin a new life, he hands his tapes over to Gabrielle...