Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, December 5:
KARL MARX CITY
Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker
New York, Chicago, Stockholm, Palm Springs, Guadalajara, CPH:DOX, Movies That Matter, Indielisboa, Docaviv, Durban
A personal exploration of the legacy of the East German surveillance state.
The setting of this well-observed essay film is the city of Chemnitz, renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt during the decades of the GDR, and director Epperlein’s hometown. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the filmmaker moved to the states. Ten years later, her father committed suicide, perhaps as a response to threatening anonymous letters he received. Faced with the possibility that her father might have somehow been involved in the deep-rooted web of surveillance and informants controlled by the Stasi, the East German state security system, Epperlein begins an investigation, and, perhaps, a hoped-for exoneration. In addition to interviewing family members about her father, the filmmaker visits the Stasi archive, and, most strikingly, makes extensive use of surveillance footage the Stasi or their informants shot – banal in its content, but panoptic evidence of their oppressive control of society. Adopting the austere look of these quotidian recordings and the paranoid feel of of an espionage thriller, the film proves compellingly disturbing and surprisingly topical, despite its Cold War setting.