In contemporary Germany, respected author and family-man Ludger, is excited to finally get a hold of his Stasi file. As his family and a Stasi archivist gather round, amongst the papers is found a love letter which was not written by his wife, Corinna. So Ludger’s memories are triggered back to the early 80s when he was actually working for the Stasi. He is part of a cell that is put together to infiltrate the counter-culture area of East Berlin and to spy on the so-called “neg-decs” (negative decadents). But in inveigling himself into this word, he finds himself falling in love, and falling into writing poetry. Meanwhile the rest of his team spend their time trying and failing, to look inconspicuous as they trail him around the bars and poetry readings.
Director and writer Leander Haussmann has put together an anarchic, hilarious, and intelligent piece of film, which examines the regime of the GDR through laughter. Although characters and situations are slightly exaggerated for comedic effect, an authenticity remains: a sense that, yes, this could have happened. Haussmann examines the ludicrous aspects of regimes such as the GDR, when almost everyone is spying on almost everyone else. And when Stasi agents could often be spotted a mile off.
The stellar cast includes David Kross, Henry Hübchen, Jörg Schüttauf, Deleila Piasko, Antonia Bill, and Tom Schilling.
This year’s German Film Festival includes several works that examine the GDR both in historic terms and in terms of the legacy it still leaves contemporary Germany. And as Haussmann himself says, “After 30 years it should be finally allowed to laugh about the Stasi.” This work is certainly laughs-aplenty. Even the more predictable moments are so tight that they become freshly hilarious. A solid script, a firm directorial hand, and some stonkingly good acting ensures that this comedy does what it says on the tin. It’s a side-acher!
A Stasi Comedy screens as part of the German Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.
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