The film “Das Lehrerzimmer” by Ilker Çatak is supposed to be in the running for the foreign Oscar for Germany. Ideally, the school drama should imitate the war film “Nothing New in the West” and bring the trophy to Germany for the second time in a row.

“With “The Teacher’s Room” the jury has nominated a highly topical, universal film that you can’t resist,” says the jury’s statement. German Films, the German film agency abroad, also announced on Wednesday evening in Munich: “Ilker Çatak takes the microcosm of schools as a stage for social erosion processes in the post-factual age.”

However, “highly topical” films from Germany traditionally do not have it easy at the Academy in the USA, which seems to appreciate historical material in German films in particular.

The choice of the German contribution is only a preliminary stage in the race for the foreign Oscar. The shortlist of international applicants will be announced later. The five nominated films are then selected from this shortlist. The Oscars ceremony will then take place on March 10, 2024.

Selection strategy changed at times

With the exception of “Toni Erdmann”, which was nominated for the 2017 Oscars, all the German contributions that finally made it into the five nominees recently dealt with recent or recent German history: “The White Ribbon” by Michael Haneke competed at the 2010 Oscars, a year earlier Uli Edel’s “The Baader Meinhof Complex” had been nominated for the foreign Oscar.

Before the huge success of “Nothing New in the West”, which in March this year won three more Oscars in addition to the foreign Oscar, the last German success in the Oscar category for best non-English language film had been 15 years ago. At that time, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Stasi drama “The Lives of Others” won. In 2018, the Donnersmarck jury even sent a second time to Hollywood with his film “Werk ohne Autor” about Gerhard Richter. But he could not repeat his Oscar success.

In recent years, the strategy then changed at times: in 2019, the jury decided on the social drama “System Crasher”, a year later the political drama “And tomorrow the whole world” was chosen as a candidate. Maria Schrader’s futuristic tragic comedy “I’m Your Human” made it onto the shortlist, but didn’t make it into the finals. The great success came again with a drama about the First World War.

“The staff room is a masterpiece”

But for 2024, the focus is on the current again: the film by director Çatak tells of a conflict at a school that is getting out of hand. The focus is on a teacher (Leonie Benesch) who wants to solve a series of thefts at her school and decides to secretly let a camera run in the teachers’ room.

“Çatak masterfully stages his precisely written story as a failure of understanding. Leonie Benesch plays an idealist who comes under more and more pressure while trying to do everything right,” the jury said about the film shot in Hamburg.

“”The teacher’s room” is a masterpiece and was created entirely in Hamburg. We are incredibly proud of the team,” says Helge Albers, Managing Director of Moin Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein.

Çatak, who studied at the Hamburg Media School (HMS) and was awarded the “Student Oscar” in gold for his graduation film “Sadakat” in 2015, also won the Golden Lola for the best feature film at the German Film Awards with his “Lehrerzimmer”. and is nominated for the European Film Awards.

“We are deeply grateful for this opportunity and are very happy,” said director Çatak and producer Ingo Fliess after the decision. “At the same time, we are very aware of our responsibility to represent German film on the international stage.”