German director makes parents proud with Oscar nomination

March 6, 2024 12:22 pm

[Source: Reuters]

His parents never wanted him to be a filmmaker but now that Ilker Catak has been nominated for an Oscar, the German director says “they’re the proudest people in Germany.”

Catak’s film ‘The Teachers’ Lounge’ is one of five films competing next Sunday for best international feature at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

“The beauty of it is that all of this was very unexpected. We never set out to make a film that gets Oscar nominated,” Catak said. He said the attention the nomination has brought to the film is great as it brings focus to the challenges faced by teachers.

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“They are overworked, they earn too little, they don’t get enough appreciation, all of that hopefully becomes visible through this film,” he said.

The drama, which he wrote and directed, centres on aspiring teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Benesch) who gets caught in a tricky situation when some of the school staff suspect one of her students has been stealing money.

Nowak decides to take matters into her own hands, and uses her laptop to secretly record activity in the staff room in order to track down the real culprit, an idea that dramatically backfires.

“Things spiral out of control and the film becomes, a metaphor for many things that are going on in the world, such as the search for truth, classism, sexism, racism,” Catak explained.

Born in Berlin in 1984 to Turkish parents, Catak has consistently made shorts and movies since his first release in 2005. As well as an Oscar nod, ‘The Teachers Lounge’ also won a prize at 2023’s Berlin International Film Festival.

“I went into this project thinking this might just be my last film. So I might just as well burn the bridges,” Catak said, saying he “protected every creative, artistic integrity with a fierce attitude.”

“I think what resonates with people today is that they can feel if there is something genuine about a film or not.”

Winners of the 96th Academy Awards will be announced at a live, televised ceremony on March 10.