© NFP/Filmwelt

Der Illegale Film (The Illegal Film)
Germany 2019

Opening 11 Apr 2019

Directed by: Martin Baer, Claus Wischmann
Writing credits: Martin Baer, Holger Preuße, Claus Wischmann

The world is full of cameras. Cell phone cameras, traffic cameras, security cameras… the list goes on. Millions of pictures are being taken every day, but who owns all of these photos? Does the individual have rights to their own image? Can a landscape or landmark be copyrighted? As the world becomes more photographed and these images are used for multiple purposes, more thought is put into claiming ownership for profit. If everything visible is possible to be owned, including colors, then how does that impact personal freedoms?

While there are some interesting ideas raised by Der Illegale Film, it is a rather amateurish documentary both stylistically and analytically. Baer and Wischmann use a disjointed conglomeration of interviews, commercials, quotes, and clips of Baer’s daughter as the foundation of their film. The transitions between these various clips are awkward and slapdash, often leaving out critical context and evoking more of a student Windows Media Maker vibe than that of a professional work. Even more damning is the unfortunate propensity towards fear mongering.

Technological advancement is happening faster than international governments seem willing or capable of legally keeping up with. Also, most people seem prepared to give up their personal rights without thought if it means something is easier or more comfortable for them to use. Baer and Wischmann do an adequate job of highlighting the problematic nature of this casual ignorance. However, they are overly simplistic and seem content to simply write off technology with fearful conclusions evoking some sort of inevitable dystopian future à la Terminator. Think of the medical advancements, the cultural exchange, and the easy access to information which is now available due to the internet. There is certainly need of regulation, but Baer and Wischmann are more interested in spreading philosophically laden technophobia rather than offering solutions or highlighting the positives of the modern technological world. Be sure to skip this cumbersome, one-sided documentary. (Rose Finlay)

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