Marie Wilke: Aggregat

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.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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