The Boat is Full (1981)


The Boat Is Full (German: Das Boot ist voll) is a 1981 German-language Swiss film directed by Markus Imhoof.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as a Swiss submission.

It was also entered into the 31st Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear for an outstanding single achievement.


During World War II, Switzerland severely limited refugees: “Our boat is full.”

A train from Germany halts briefly in an isolated corner of Switzerland. Six people jump off seeking asylum: four Jews, a French child, and a German soldier.

They seek temporary refuge with a couple who run a village inn. They pose as a family: the deserter as husband, Judith as his wife, an old man from Vienna as her father, his granddaughter and the French lad, whom they beg to keep silent, as their children.

Judith’s teenage brother poses as a soldier. The fabrication unravels through chance and the local constable’s exact investigation.

Whom will the Swiss allow to stay? Who gets deported?


  • The title of the film derives from what was expressed by the Swiss during World War II, for as a nonbelligerent country many refugees desired entry there, with most being denied permission.
  • They were frequently told, “Our boat is full,” a reference to passengers of a lifeboat after a ship sinking frequently refusing to allow any further survivors to enter their craft after it had reached a level of occupancy felt to approach the limit of safety.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director: Markus Imhoof.
  • Producer: George Reinhart.
  • Writers: Markus Imhoof and Alfred A. Haesler.
  • Cinematography: Hans Liechti.
  • Release Date: February 1981.
  • Running Time: 101 minutes.
  • Country: Switzerland.
  • Language: German.

YouTube Link

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