The German director is no newcomer to the Berlinale: his Unternehmen Paradies (Enterprise Paradise), a film about Berlin, had its premiere in 2003 in Perspektive Deutsches Kino. Later, he collaborated with Mario Mentrup on films like Stadt des Lichts (City of Light, 2005) but is now back on his own with Unter Kontrolle, a lush, haunting documentary on the nuclear industry.
Sum up your film in 1 sentence.
Unter Kontrolle shows the daily routine of nuclear energy and makes clear how hard it is to try to combine the idea of a ‘peaceful’ use of nuclear power and reality.
2 good reasons why people should queue in the cold to see it?
First, it’s a ride to space, to the magically luminescent nucleus in the depth of nuclear reactors… human and technology at the borders of our imagination. Second, it’s a documentary on 35mm in Cinemascope.
Describe your film in 3 words starting with the same letter.
An. Atomic. Age.
How did you come up with the initial idea?
It was in 2007 in Vienna when I saw the UNO-City, home of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I was fascinated by the 24-floor concentrically built 1970s high-rise. It looked like a huge monitoring instrument for nuclear power, which had spread worldwide. Men in dark suits and women in chic costumes reminded me of the secret service in an American film, and the state-of-the-art original design let me feel the promise of the peaceful use of the nuclear.
If you could show your film in a double feature, which would be the other one?
The China Syndrome by James Bridges. It’s a very well researched film, which begins with an almost-Super-GAU (major worst case scenario) in an American nuclear power plant. Three weeks after the film was released something similar occurred in the nuclear power plant Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
If you didn’t make films, what would you do?
Between designing films and designing buildings I see parallels: I’d be an architect.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For my films: at the end of Unter Kontrolle traces of invisible radioactivity appear on screen. In a research reactor we let a gamma ray fall on a container of unexposed 35mm film.
Take a film on a desert island…
Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? by Benedikt Friedl.
A film or director that changed your life?
Describe one of your favourite scenes in a film of your choice.
The end of L’eclisse by Michelangelo Antonioni: a long episode of still lives, symbolically showing how all life comes to an end.