The Goethe Institute has been running an online film festival this month for free. One of the movies I watched was Weitermachen Sanssouci (2019), a German satire which loosely translates into “keep on going without worries”. The film satire about how higher education institution operates there. It has no specific story, yet it keeps you engaged with its narrative style.
A young scientist, Phoebe Phaldon, joins the Berlin University of Cybernetics as a lecturer and works on her project to study climate change’s impact with the help of Virtual Reality. Instead, of being able to focus on her study, she witnesses changes and chaos happening among the different stakeholders of the University. The professors are worried about retaining the funding for their own research projects, the management is focused on clearing the review (evaluation) by the board of education, and the students are unhappy about the job opportunities that are available post their education and with businesses using the research work for free (use them as a “concept sweatshop”) and the business consultants who work with the university obsessed with hiring the best and brightest from the University.
We see a lot in the film including holograms, students being trained on Oil trading through a game, a cybernetic revolution in Chile and students protesting by a stay inside the University library. There was an interesting quote in the film when a colleague of Phoebe asks her “What’s the use of science if it can’t provide an answer for our questions?“. When the education board observers come to evaluate, the management instead of presenting them with hard data and proof work on the cosmetics by presenting them a walk-through with holograms and spent time on how the printed report has to be bound (they decide on bast fibre cover). Everything that can go wrong during the visit happens including the cooling system breaking down throughout the entire building and humourous events happen.
Overall, a nice watch to see how higher education and research are happening in a developed country like Germany.
Weitermachen Sanssouci (2019) – Director: Max Linz