The Teacher's Lounge
A theft occurs at a Berlin school. Çatak escalates the situation with the unstoppability of a screwball comedy or a catastrophe movie.
Young Clara Nowak (Leonie Benesch) is a sixth grade classroom teacher. She is relatively new to the school, teaches math and sports, and gets along fine with her students. She approaches problems in a direct and friendly way, whether it‘s in class or with the staff. The mood there is latently irritable because there are thefts at the school. The suspicion falls on Ali, one of Clara‘s students, who is taken out of class by a delegation of the school administration without Clara‘s knowledge after she has all the boys show their wallets - “voluntarily,“ of course. Ali turns out to be innocent, but the parents are angry, Clara is angry, the students are unsettled, rumors of “racial profiling“ abound, and the thefts continue.
In the film by Berlin director Ilker Çatak(ES GILT DAS GESPROCHENE WORT, RÄUBERHÄNDE), school is primarily a site where it‘s impossible to get out of your own way and everything you do has an influence on other people. The confinement is further emphasized in the almost square 4:3 film format, which focuses the gaze on the people and their interactions. Like waves in a pool, the rumors and events spread, are reflected back, splinter in their foundation, and are soon uncontrollable in their great number and detail.
The “police operation“ in the classroom is just the beginning. Angered and mistrustful towards her colleagues, Clara consciously leaves money in her jacket in the teacher‘s lounge and records footage using the camera on her laptop – and does end up catching her colleague (Eva Löbau) in the act. The problem: the women vehemently denies doing it and surveilling a colleague is, of course, illegal. With the unstoppability of a screwball comedy or a catastrophe movie, Çatak escalates the situation further: while the school administrators impose a gag order, the rumors develop a life of their own. There‘s bullying, a parent-teacher conference goes off the rails, the school paper gets investigative and is immediately banned...
Initially, Clara, who tries to put out fires everywhere and jumps out of the frying pan and into the fire, is at the center. Gradually, the focus shifts when Oskar (Lenard Stettnisch), the son of the thief and a student in Clara‘s class, becomes more and more of the innocent victim in this battle for truth, justice, school peace, and compliance. The film sympathizes with both of them, as it does with almost everyone in the film, which is a fantastic ensemble film – the scenes in the classrooms and the hallways with dozens of children are fantastically acted.
Translation: Elinor Lewy
Original title: Das Lehrerzimmer – The Teachers' Lounge
Deutschland 2023, 94 min
Director: Ilker Çatak
Author: Ilker Çatak, Johannes Duncker
DOP: Judith Kaufmann
Montage: Gesa Jäger
Music: Marvin Miller
Distributor: Alamode Filmverleih
Cast: Leonie Benesch, Michael Klammer, Rafael Stachowiak, Eva Löbau
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
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