Filmmakers Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker travel to Chemnitz, Germany because a mystery surrounds Petra’s father’s death. Just before ending his life, he sends his daughter a sweet note with no indication of his plans other than his disappointment with East Germany and the surveillance practices of the Stasi. What Epperlein and Tucker uncover is that place in the mind we all go, or would go, when very few around us are trustworthy and nowhere is safe from the gaze of surveillance, neither your home nor anywhere you visit. Every encounter is overlaid with the possibility that nothing is as it appears.
Karl Marx City combines intimate interviews, spooky Stasi footage, as well as Epperlein’s narration in third person as she treks through town with an enormous microphone, making conspicuously visible the once hidden recording tool. The film has a slow terror to it, one that will have you thinking about just how smooth the transition can be from data collection to psychological coercion.