Federal police officer Julia Grosz is one of the television inspectors whose private life has so far been largely ignored. In , the eleventh NDR “Tatort” with Franziska Weisz, that changes: After a break of several years, Ela Erol (Elisabeth Hofmann) is back for Grosz.
Both were in love with each other, but when Ela wanted to live their relationship openly, Grosz withdrew. Now Ela Erol has “got into something” as an undercover investigator in the left-wing autonomous scene in Hamburg, as she reveals to her old friend. She doesn’t want to reveal more, but when she calls again later, Julia Grosz has to overhear how Ela is attacked and the connection is suddenly terminated.
In the episode “Schattenleben” the commissioner is now researching Ela’s whereabouts with a false identity, while colleague Thorsten Falke (Wotan Wilke Möhring) covers her arbitrary actions. At the same time, a series of arson attacks on police officers’ cars must be uncovered.
In another attack, the fire spread to Bastian Huber’s (Robert Höller) house and seriously injured his wife. After violent arrests, there had been internal investigations against Huber and the other police officers, but without any consequences. There is a suspicion that the undercover police officer herself could be involved in the actions of the left-wing extremist scene.
Even if there is a classic (and exciting) thriller resolution at the end, the strength of the screenplay by young author Lena Fakler (“At the End of Words”) and the staging by director Mia Spengler (“Back for Good”) lies in the presentation the tightrope act of an undercover investigation.
Ela lives in a queer, feminist housing project and has probably “got into something” personally, namely in her relationship with the equally passionate and radical Nana (Gina Haller). Julia Grosz tries to win the trust of the women from the autonomous scene, soon uses dubious investigative methods herself and also gets closer to the young power woman.
In addition to police work in a legal gray area, the film is also about emotional entanglement. In doing so, he takes up real cases that became public in Hamburg a few years ago: Two undercover investigators had spied on the left-wing scene around the Autonomous Center “Rote Flora” and had also entered into love relationships.
Whether this was “instrumental in nature or authentic” is undecided to this day, says Rafael Behr. The professor of police science at the Hamburg Police Academy’s technical college was called in as a consultant by the NDR and recognized “a lot of police reality and a lot of truth” in the “Schattenwelten” episode.
This is all the more remarkable because here, in addition to left-wing violence, esprit de corps within the police force is also being denounced. Officers who overreached themselves on the job were covered by their colleagues. Falke and the commissioner Thomas Okonjo (Jonathan Kwesi Aikins), who was called in, encounter incomprehension and anger in their own ranks during their investigations. However, the aspect of police violence remains somewhat stereotyped. The tussle over competence with the state guard has also been seen all too often.
For the first time, Julia Grosz is clearly at the center of this NDR “crime scene” team. The result is impressive, not least thanks to Franziska Weisz, but director Spengler sets standards with “Schattenwelten” above all in other respects. The daughter of a German father and a Korean mother, who was born in Munich, made her commitment dependent on certain sections of the population receiving a fixed percentage of the production.
Diversity as a contractual clause: This model (“Inclusion Rider”), which had already been developed in the USA and was mentioned by Oscar winner Frances McDormand in her acceptance speech in 2018, has now been implemented by NDR “as the first public broadcaster”, as film boss Christian Granderath explains . Two thirds of the leading positions were women, 17 percent were filled with BIPoCs (“Black, Indigenous, People of Color”).
“German film lacks various voices, especially young women of color,” said Mia Spengler in an interview for the Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein Film Foundation. “It’s in the interests of the entire industry to change that. Hopefully the Inclusion Rider is a small step on a long way.” However, she also warned against an obligation to provide information – with the result that “the people concerned will be even more discriminated against”.