The Teachers' Lounge 2023

Das Lehrerzimmer

Directed by İlker Çatak Widescreen

Driven by a captivating central performance, this unsettling Oscar-nominated classroom thriller thoughtfully probes the grey area of student care versus culpability, and to what degree our systems promote or constrain our humanity.

Germany In English, German, Polish and Turkish with English subtitles
98 minutes Colour / DCP
M
Offensive language

Director

Producer

Ingo Fliess

Screenplay

İlker Çatak, Johannes Duncker

Cinematography

Judith Kaufmann

Editor

Gesa Jäger

Production Designer

Zazie Knepper

Costume Designer

Christian Röhrs

Music

Marvin Miller

Cast

Leonie Benesch, Michael Klammer, Rafael Stachoviak, Ann-Kathrin Gummich, Eva Löbau

Festivals

Berlin, Toronto 2023

Awards

Academy Award Nominee 2024 – Best International Feature Film

Elsewhere

Presented in association with

Goethe Institut

School can be awkward at the best of times, and confronting illegal or unacceptable behaviour is sure to be a fraught affair. How do you balance institutional and individual needs, personal safety and wellbeing? And what about any inherent power dynamics at play? 

With deft handling of complex relational issues, The Teachers’ Lounge utilises a string of petty thefts at a German secondary school as the catalyst to explore a range of broader social issues – racial prejudice, socio-economic status, institutional conformity – and Germany’s troubled history, a spectre always lurking at the film’s edge. 

Rising Turkish-German filmmaker İlker Çatak maintains a taut tone throughout, aided by smart framing of closed-in school halls, a cool colour palette, and a disquieting score. Leonie Benesch (whom some may recognise from The Crown or Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon) is incisive and expressive as idealist immigrant teacher Carla Nowak. Benesch conveys great empathy, contrasted by an officious workplace and jaded colleagues, plus a mounting sense of unease as Carla fails to navigate a “good path” through quickly crumbling circumstances. Çatak’s screenplay makes provocative use of the film’s relatable context, resulting in a gripping human drama. — Jacob Powell

“...this is no broadside against Germany’s academic apparatus, nor even against the failings of educational institutions more generally. Instead, it makes the subtle but striking argument that school is not some sterile, cloistered haven in which we can safely prepare young minds for the challenges of the real world: it is the real world, and at every roll call, all those challenges are already present.” — Jessica Kiang, Variety