Menu Film Forum
PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

KARL MARX CITY

2:30   9:00

MUST END TUESDAY, APRIL 25

WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY PETRA EPPERLEIN AND MICHAEL TUCKER

Playing with

BROKEN – THE WOMEN’S PRISON AT HOHENECK

Alexander Lahl & Volker Schlecht’s moving animated evocation of the life of East German women political prisoners.

Germany  2016  7 mins.
In German with English subtitles

Unsurprisingly, East Germany (aka the GDR/German Democratic Republic) boasts people who are experts in suicide notes. The Soviet satellite came to an ignoble end when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, leaving behind a lot of unanswered questions, among them Petra Epperlein’s suspicion that her father (a suicide) spied for the Stasi, the state police.  Now a New Yorker, Epperlein, and co-filmmaker Michael Tucker (GUNNER PALACE) return to her childhood home and, with wonderful graphic panache, investigate her family’s past as well as the life of a nation in which one out of three citizens spied on the other two. Making smart use of “jaw-dropping period material which includes some wildly creepy Stasi surveillance imagery” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times), it’s a Cold War mystery tale and a psycho-political look at how the larger world impacts our individual understanding of love, trust, and betrayal.

USA / GERMANY 2016   89 MINS.   IN ENGLISH AND GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES   BOND/360

Reviews

“Must-see...A biographical portrait and a work of sociopolitical archaeology, KARL MARX CITY is an essayistic, quietly moving look at another lost world...the movie draws you in quickly with its intelligence, its restrained emotions and its jaw-dropping period material, which includes some wildly creepy Stasi surveillance imagery.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Critic’s Pick. Smart, highly personal… excavating the zone where family and national history intersect. In addition to illuminating the inner workings of everyday political terror, she tried to to shed light on a family tragedy… The mystery of her father’s life and death provides (the film) with suspense, and with a concrete sense of profound moral and emotional stakes… (The filmmakers) shooting in black and white and making judicious use of historical footage, brilliantly evoke a landscape of gray areas.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“More than a movie about one family’s history, or even about one country’s history, this is a fascinating conversation about history itself, the very act of forgetting, and the persistence of memory.”
– Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

KARL MARX CITY is a stunner — an impressively inventive take on the personal doc that, with the sinister banality of its archival footage, expands from the personal to the political before concluding with a breathtakingly perfect ending.”
– Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine

“So damn good...lean, smart, quick, well-made, and unsparing, a documentary that wastes nothing and manages to say everything it wants to say in the most articulate way possible. It’s a remarkable picture of inbound focus and outbound ambitions.”
– Andrew Crump, The Playlist

“A compelling family mystery wrapped in Cold War history. Part espionage thriller, part family memoir, and part timely warning about the dangers of state surveillance. A key joy of KARL MARX CITY is its strong, arty aesthetic.”
– Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

“Offers eerie parallels to the rise in surveillance today. (It) makes for a particularly resonant warning from the not-so-distant past… doesn’t have a whiff of the narcissism that plagues so many first-person documentaries. Epperlein offers KARL MARX CITY as her own act of painful transparency, an essential warning about what happens to societies when ordinary citizens are being watched.”
– Scott Tobias, Variety

“Provocative and personal… Eloquently presents a culture of intense paranoia… A director putting oneself front and center in their documentary can be a risky move, but here it pays off.”
 – Abbey Bender, Metro