On Thursday, April 19, it was our great honor and pleasure to host renowned filmmakers Marc Bauder and Dörte Franke for a special screening of The System (Das System – Alles verstehen heißt alles verzeihen). The duo’s first feature film had its US premiere at the Disappearing Act Film Festival in New York City just a week earlier (on April 11). Bauder and Franke introduced the film to a full house and returned to the podium to lead a question and answer session following the screening. The event was co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut Boston and the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature.
Marc Bauder was born in Stuttgart in 1974 and founded the production company Bauderfilm in 1999. He has directed and produced several films with his partner Dörte Franke, including Grow or Go (2003) and The Communist (2006). Franke was born in Leipzig, also in 1974, and emigrated to West Germany in 1981. The two were shaped in their youth by the division of Germany and its reunification and their films reflect the ongoing legacy of this period in German history. Although East and West Germany officially united more than twenty years ago, the ramifications of the East German system are still being felt today in the expanded Federal Republic. The extensive spy network and the state’s repression of dissident thought continue to have tremendous effects on the cultural fabric of German society.1 In their films, Bauder and Franke are exploring how different kinds of systems affect daily life, and how individuals behave within such structures.
Starring the captivating Jacob Matschenz, who appeared in the lead role of Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold’s contribution in the Dreileben film trilogy, The System is a self-assured fiction feature debut about a young man who is seduced by power and money when he crosses paths with former agents of the East German secret police. The once popular seaside town of Rostock, now a bit empty and much less alluring, is where this 20-year-old lives with his widowed mother. He doesn’t know anything about his father or the circumstances of his death. Being a bit of a rebel and a petty thief, he’s easily convinced by a man in a flashy car and suit to become his apprentice. He hopes to solve the mystery of his father’s death that his mother does not want to divulge. But as the full German title of the film suggests, understanding comes at a price.2