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UFA Event Program 'Ship of No Return – The Final Voyage of the ‘Gustloff" in ZDF Enterprises Sales Catalogue

Fiction two-parter about the biggest shipping disaster in history is the most expensive UFA production of all time

ZDF Enterprises, co-producer of 'Ship of No Return – The Final Voyage of the ‘Gustloff", is handling worldwide marketing of this production, which cost over €10 million – making it the most expensive UFA project of all time. It took five years to develop the script and arrange financing for one of the most lavish and expensive television movies ever made by UFA and ZDF, which has actually exceeded expectations by recording a market share of 23.5 % when first shown at prime time; it was seen by 8.45 million viewers on that occasion.

'Ship of No Return – The Final Voyage of the ‘Gustloff" is a moving two-parter with an outstanding cast, a lavish historical drama which depicts the tragic sinking of the refugee ship 'Wilhelm Gustloff' on 30th January 1945. Over 9000 people perished in the icy waters of the Baltic – six times more than when the Titanic went to the bottom – and most of them were women and children. This gripping anti-war film is directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, who has won so many awards for past productions (‘Autumn Milk’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘Comedian Harmonists’, ‘Sleep's Brother’), and it boasts a stunning cast including Kai Wiesinger, Valerie Niehaus, Heiner Lauterbach, Dana Vávrová, Detlev Buck, Ulrike Kriener, Michael Mendl, Karl Markovics, Alexander Held and Francis Fulton-Smith.

The film is based on authentic events and the statements of contemporary witnesses; a survivor of the sinking of the Gustloff, Heinz Schön, was a consultant on the script.

The story begins three days before the Gustloff sets sail from the port of Gotenhafen (today Gdynia) and ends the day after it is sunk. We see events from the perspective of the young civilian ferry captain Hellmut Kehding, who is given the task of getting the ship safely to Kiel with about 1,500 German military personnel and almost 9000 refugees on board. In Gotenhafen Hellmut Kehding meets up once again with his great love Erika Galetschky, who is working as a naval assistant in the refugee centre, under the strict supervision of Berta Burkat. Among the refugees are Lilli Simoneit, her 16-year-old son Kalli and the extremely pregnant Marianne. Like thousands of others, they hope that the Gustloff will take them to safety.

Producer Norbert Sauer of UFA Filmproduktion: "We were united by the desire to make an anti-war film which does justice to the victims of the war without concealing the responsibility of the perpetrators. I hope this film succeeds in doing just that."


**About ZDF Enterprises**
Founded in 1993, ZDF Enterprises GmbH is the wholly-owned subsidiary and commercial arm of ZDF German Television Network, one of Europe's largest and most respected broadcasters. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the development, production and global distribution of quality original programming. The company is also responsible for all program acquisitions and international co-productions on behalf of the network, and acquires programming for world-wide distribution. Its vast program library ranks as the largest in the German language. The extensive catalogue includes television movies and mini-series, drama series and comedies, documentaries, family entertainment and children's programming. ZDF Enterprises also oversees all licensing and merchandising activities based on its high-profile programs, including book and music publishing and the licensing of its program properties in all key product categories. Committed to the future, ZDF Enterprises has embarked on numerous New Media initiatives, ranging from opportunities within the burgeoning e-commerce industry to the creation of themed edutainment dimensions featuring the recognized program brands with which ZDF has become synonymous.

**Contact ZDF Enterprises**
Christine Denilauler (Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Lise-Meitner-Str. 9, D-55129 Mainz/Germany, tel. 0049 6131-991228, fax 0049 6131-991229, e-mail: [], [].


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany