Germany, 74 min
Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, is the 265th Pope. On his first official visit to his native Germany as the sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church, all official media are focused on this unique event. The protocol follows a strict organization and the images and words of the Pope are monitored by the officials of the Vatican’s press secretary. But in Thomas Heise’s film we do not get to see any of these pictures. What we see is how the machine of the state exercises its control functions, the clockwork precision of a complex organization that takes care of each detail. Heise does not search for the obvious image. His gaze focuses on what is left outside the frame of the image. Thus he composes a beautiful yet hauntingly paranoid mosaic portrait of the militarization of the control machine that mirrors the contradictions of a post-Soviet Union and 9/11 world. Carefully shot and edited, with a painstaking attention to the sonic texture, Die Lage is an utterly compelling social and philosophical commentary, not without some very black humour.
Giona A. Nazzaro