Karl Marx City
Twenty-five years after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), filmmaker Petra Epperlein returns to the proletarian Oz of her childhood to find the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumored Stasi past. Had he been an informant for the secret police? Was her childhood an elaborate fiction? As she looks for answers in the Stasi’s extensive archives, she pulls back the curtain of her own nostalgia and enters the parallel world of the security state, seeing her former life through the lens of the oppressor. Reconstructing everyday GDR life through declassified Stasi surveillance footage, the past plays like dystopian science fiction, providing a chilling backdrop to interrogate the apparatus of control and the meaning of truth in a society where every action and thought was suspect.
Sound: Stereo 2.0
- "“Karl Marx City,” Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s unsettling new documentary, is a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales."
- "Dozens of documentaries have been made about the repressive Communist regimes of the former Eastern bloc, but few have been as visually striking or as deeply personal as Karl Marx City."
- "I love how no matter where she goes, Epperlein carries her faux-fur-covered microphone (the cover is to dampen the wind) and points it almost like a weapon to make sure she does not miss one detail with a determination that deserves a standing ovation. What she does is what great documentary filmmaking is all about and 89 minutes here is never boring, always informative and offers all kinds of facts and truths long, long overdue. Go out of your way to see this one and you too will be impressed. "
- "A hypnotic work of cinematic autobiography that leverages one woman's fear to exhume the paranoia that once defined an entire country."
- "Essayistic and very effective."
- "Shot in evocative black and white, “Karl Marx City” is a sleek, absorbing detective story, a fascinating primer on mass surveillance in the pre-Snowden era, and a roving memoir of East German life."
- "Karl Marx City is that rarest of objects: an exploration of family history that avoids solipsism and manages to connect the personal to much broader things."
- "Filmmakers constantly work through their personal matters through the documentary medium, but rarely is the result as intriguing and enriching as this."
Awards & Recognition
Toronto Int'l. Film Festival
Stockholm Int'l. Film Festival
Palm Springs Int'l. Film Festival
New York Film Festival
Chicago Int'l. Film Festival