A new junior high teacher (Leonie Benesch) becomes an amateur investigator in order to unmask a thief active in the school, but the roots and consequences of the case run deep.
The Teachers' Lounge
Fresh out of college, Carla (Leonie Benesch) is a new hire at a German junior high. Soon beloved by her homeroom, she takes great pride in her job, though not in her Polish heritage, which she hides from her colleagues. The school has a problem: a thief is at work and causing suspicion among students and staff. After falling victim to the culprit’s handiwork — and with her Turkish pupil falsely accused of the crime — Carla is embroiled in a plot to entrap the real offender. With the help of her laptop, she manages to corner Friederike (Eva Löbau), who works as the school secretary and whose bright son Oskar (Leonard Stettnisch) is in Carla’s class. With the rumour mill roiling and the school newspaper weighing in, Carla is in the spotlight and neither Friederike nor Oskar, who starts spreading damaging rumours in retaliation for his mother’s dismissal, will go down without a fight.
Benesch (The White Ribbon, TIFF ’09) and Löbau — who was the lead in The Forest For the Trees, Maren Ade’s 2003 breakout film, which screened in TIFF’s Discovery programme — are outstanding as adversaries in director Ilker Çatak’s debut. Born in Berlin to Turkish immigrants, Çatak has his finger on the pulse of what makes us tick and a knack for showing how quickly things can fall apart, be they small-time schemes or entire democracies. The Teachers’ Lounge, which won the German Film Awards’ top prize of the Golden Lola for best film in 2023, is an essential reminder that no good deed goes unpunished.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival