“Tatort”: Is “Schattenleben” based on a true case? Five questions about the new thriller from Hamburg

Updated on 06/12/2022 at 21:45

  • “Schattenleben” takes place in Hamburg’s left-wing scene and deals with the sensitive issue of police violence. That’s why tensions arose during filming.
  • But they are not the reason why the director has since been a sought-after guest on panel discussions.
  • Background to the Hamburg “crime scene: shadow life”.

More information about the “crime scene” can be found here

Is “Schattenleben” based on a true case?

The story about an undercover investigator who likes the alternative way of life is inspired by the cases of two young police officers who spied on left-wing scenes in Hamburg and were exposed in 2015. The legitimacy of the methods of both, who had also entered into sexual relationships in the scene, was disputed.

Rafael Behr, Professor of Police Science at the Hamburg Police Academy, advised on the shooting and explained on “daserste.de” the fascination of such work for undercover investigators: “There is a pleasure in doing exactly the opposite of what you have sworn to do, spying on scenes, spying on people, doing things that are otherwise frowned upon and amoral. In undercover investigations in the We experience again and again that the police officers are fascinated by the other side.”

Crossing the border becomes particularly problematic in the case of sexual relationships, because it is almost impossible to clarify whether these were authentic on the part of the officials or whether they were entered into for tactical reasons: “Things can happen during an undercover investigation that cannot be controlled bureaucratically or legally falling in love, for example, which is in no way punishable. Can we blame a police officer for still behaving humanely in her role? Or do we have to assume that everything was clocked through professionally… That’s the tragic moment. As with sexual abuse, the burden of proof lies with the victims.”

What does FLINTA mean?

In “crime scene” FLINTA is mentioned when describing the residential project Attacke, which wants to offer a shelter within the “cis hetero male” society. The acronym stands for women, lesbians, intersex, non-binary, trans and agender people (agender – i.e. “a-gender” – refers to people who do not feel they belong to any gender and often reject the concept in general).

The spelling FLINTA* (with an asterisk) should also include those who do not find themselves in any of these groups, but who are also marginalized in a patriarchal majority society because of their gender identity.

In contrast to the more well-known term LGBTQ+, which describes people with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, FLINTA* indicates a different gender identity than cis hetero male.

So while strictly speaking lesbians aren’t one of them, they were included in FLINTA to celebrate the feminist achievements of their movement.

Why was there trouble about the location?

“Schattenleben” was filmed in May 2021 in the Wilhelmsburg district of Hamburg, among other places. The building that houses “Attack” is on Mokrystraße and is actually a left-wing alternative housing project. Almost 50 people live in the GoMokry.
the “Bild” newspaper reported in May 2021 that GoMokry was being observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution because there were “clear references to the left-wing extremist scene”. The NDR then published a statement: The choice of motif had caused criticism, “because according to information from the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Hamburg, the facility is occasionally used by the left-wing extremist scene. The basis for this assessment are primarily links on the association’s homepage, which other house projects. However, according to the information provided by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the association or the property itself are not under surveillance.”

The GoMokry collective released a statement on the “crime scene”: “We are very critical of the fact that police violence is made socially acceptable with this format and that the police are mostly put in a positive light by this format.” The approximately 3,000 euros in income from the shoot would be “used to support people who are affected by police violence, among other things.”

What does the Inclusion Rider do?

When director Mia Spengler was offered the opportunity to shoot a second “Tatort” in Hamburg after “Die goldene Zeit”, she agreed on the condition that an inclusion rider had to be included in the production contract.

This is a clause according to which social groups should also be involved in the production of a film in proportion to their share of the population. This includes, for example, black people, people with physical or mental disabilities and members of the FLINTA and LGBTQ+ community. The Inclusion Rider goes back to an idea by the American professor of media and gender studies Stacy Smith, who criticized in 2016 that US productions are disproportionately dominated by whites, which does not correspond to the reality of the American population.

How successful is the clause?

The Inlusion Rider only became known to a wider audience – including in Hollywood – in March 2018, when Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) mentioned it in her acceptance speech. The award ceremony was influenced by the #metoo movement. With her words, Frances McDormand called on her colleagues to use their influence to insist on the paragraph in contracts: In this way, celebrities also enable marginalized sections of the population to share in Hollywood. Stars like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck followed suit.

However reported the “New York Times” 2019, only a few film studios are ready for the inclusion rider – with reference to artistic freedom or the reason that their contracts already contain similar equal rights paragraphs.

Director Mia Spengler says that since this “crime scene” she has been “called at least three times a week about Inclusion Riders and asked about my experiences and contacts. And I can hardly save myself from panel requests.” “With the project, there was a demand on the market. Now we’re giving the market a little time to react.”

Sources used:

  • daserste.de: Prof. Dr. Rafael Behr is a professor of police science with a focus on criminology and sociology
  • bild.de: “Tatort” pays 3,000 euros for left-wing extremists
  • ndr.de: Commitment to more diversity: Inclusion Rider at the new NDR “Tatort”
  • nytimes.com: Inclusion Riders? What Inclusion Rider?
crime scene

Mark Waschke celebrates his 50th birthday on March 10th. The actor is known, among other things, as “Tatort” commissioner Robert Karow. With this role he has already caused outrage. You can find out from the gallery what other episodes have caused tempers in the past.