Blond Tango

(Blonder Tango)

GDR, 1985, 119 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


Rogelio was forced into exile by the Chilean military Junta after serving time in the Antofagasta prison camp. For five years, he has lived as a Chilean exile in the GDR, where he works as a lighting technician at a small local theater. Though his colleagues try to make him feel welcome, Rogelio is lonely and isolated. He fantasizes about the opera singer Cornelia, and in his letters to his mother, he spins his dream into reality. He writes to her about his happy relationship and plans of marriage as if it were real. On the same day that Rogelio decides he cannot keep up the lie, he receives a letter from back home that turns his life upside down. 


The film is based on the 1983 novel by Chilean writer Omar Saavedra Santis (1944-2021), who spent many years in East German exile and returned to Chile in 2009.


The film is also available with Spanish subtitles.


The film is also available for a Digital Site License for educational partners. Please find more information here.


2023 Retrospective 50 Anos: Democracia es Memoria y Futuro, Santiago, Chile
1986 Grand Prix & Findling Award, GDR Feature Film Festival, East Germany
1986 Jury Prize for Best Leading Actor, GDR Feature Film Festival, East Germany
1986 Jury Prize for Best Leading Actress, GDR Feature Film Festival, East Germany

Press comments

“The film tries to explore how two generations of Germans deal with a stranger who lives and works in their midst: It depicts the mental state of East German society and provides a contemporary, critical picture of the GDR as an isolated state. It is also the last in a series of DEFA feature films dealing with Chile and marks the end of an intensive connection between the GDR and [Chile].”   —Claudia Sandberg, “Das Theater des Lebens Blonder Tango (1986) und das chilenische Filmexil in der DDR”


“A credible and sophisticated production that provides plenty of food for thought.”   —


"I have rarely experienced such a spontaneous, political and emotional reaction from our population to an event in another part of the world as on those September days in 1973 when the news and images of the military coup in Chile and the assassination of President Salvador Allende reached us. The merciless harshness of the conflict between imperialist reaction and social progress appeared vividly before our eyes and was suddenly present in our rooms, in our everyday lives."   —Lothar Warneke, Treatment I


“In Blonder Tango, (East) German and Chilean references to Beethoven, fascism, the Spanish Civil War, and exile resonates in ways fundamentally different to un-translated texts. […] Warneke’s screen play holds remarkably close to Saavedra Santi’s novel. Most of the film's dialogue is taken directly from it. Warneke takes advantage of the film's own repertoire of narrative techniques to convey the novel's multiple narrative frames.”   —Jamie Trnka, “Choreographing Exile: Lothar Warneke's and Omar Saavedra Santis's ‘Blonder Tango.’” The German Quarterly, 2011


“Based on the novel by exiled Chilean Omar Saavedra Santis, Lothar Warneke tells of big lies, lost love and the impossibility of happiness in a foreign country. [...] Leading actor Alejandro Quintana, whose acting lends the film sensuality and authenticity, fled to the GDR to escape the Chilean military dictatorship."   —


“The film is about being and remaining a stranger as an emigrant.”   —Mirko Wiermann, Arsenal Berlin




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