REVIEW WRITTEN BY GEORG ZELLER
„Democracy. Ever heard about?“ asks the guide to the visitors of the German parliament. They have. But through little role plays and corny jokes, they are taught in a more practical way how the MP’s job influences the German society.
And the viewer of Marie Wilke’s AGGREGAT – shown at the Berlinale’s Forum section – learns how democracy works in times of political disenchantment and the reign of populism. According to her documentary, the key is the intense work of single individuals who don’t get tired of doing little steps on an everyday basis.
Wilke’s sober observations show politicians participating in workshops where they learn to reply to racist arguments, journalists who elaborate how to reach their target with the message they want to propagate, members of regional parliaments trying to create personal contact to the population, or the political institutions opening their doors to the public in order to counterargument populist convictions.
Similar to her earlier work „Staatsdiener“ (Civil Servants, 2015), Wilke doesn’t add any kind of direct comment to her mostly rigid observational images. Strong and long black frames lead from one scene or situation to another and Alexander Gheorghiu’s camera often leaves important elements of the scene deliberately outside the frame, the viewer understands it anyway. With this stylistic approach, there is some strong resemblance to the works of one of Wilke’s teachers, Harun Farocki. But differently from many of his films, she doesn’t present her protagonists as small cogs in the machine of capitalism, but actually underlines their pro-active role in the shaping of society. And doing so, the film even touches the viewer in a strong emotional way: leading from desperation when facing nationalist masses shouting foamy slogans, to some sort of hope, for example when a politician with Senegalese roots convinces a journalist, that being German and being member of a leading political party, he doesn’t identify himself as a minority.
Germany, 2018, 92 mins.