Hot Docs ’11: No Entry No Exit

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Film Reviews, Hot Docs
Tags: , , , ,

A scene from No Entry No ExitThis documentary is a chasm of ethical complexities for both those participating and audiences watching the events unfold. In this tightly edited film, directors Mareille Klein and Julie Kreuzer explore the repercussions that reverberate through a rural community in Germany when a convicted rapist moves into the neighbourhood.

Karl D. moves in with his brother Helmut’s family after serving a 14-year sentence for the barbaric sexual assault of two teenage girls. It’s his second rape conviction, but he’s always maintained his innocence on the second charge. Convinced he will re-offend, neighbours demonstrate outside the house, effectively turning it into another prison.

Many of the protestors interviewed by the filmmakers sound informed regarding the legislation, though most other things appear to be hearsay. To their benefit, they are not asking for Karl’s head on a platter; rather, they want him held in preventive detention to ensure he doesn’t hurt anyone else. A year after his release, the Supreme Court’s decision on this matter is the film’s concluding climax.

In addition, most of those that gather across the street from the house disagree with Helmut’s choice to let his brother live with him despite his horrific crimes. It is because of this difference of opinion that much of the crowd’s hostility is increasingly directed at Helmut and his family. Mob mentality eventually transforms public outrage into anonymous menace resulting in nasty letters and calls to social services. When a group of women break away from the crowd to confront Karl and Helmut face-to-face, they also become targets of malicious attacks. However, the women’s attitudes towards their excursions beyond the fence are curiously similar to an amusing adventure.

The filmmakers are invited inside the homes of all the key figures in the story. They are a fly-on-the-wall as the women compose a letter to request a meeting with Helmut and invisibly present as he regularly challenges the demonstrators. Other moments include people speaking directly to the camera about the latest developments or intimidation by police, as well as painful confessions by some demonstrators about their own experiences with assault.

Karl’s apparent indifference to the hell he’s made his brother’s life is perplexing. He is never shown expressing any regret for the suffering he’s caused Helmut and his family. On the other hand, he speaks nonchalantly about serious matters such as the crime he does admit to committing.

Viewers will find themselves constantly renegotiating their positions as the narrative progresses. By the end, the lines are no clearer and the ethical dilemmas are not resolved. But the result is a captivating documentary about a very muddy situation.

No Entry No Exit is playing as part of Hot Docs on Saturday, April 30 at 3:45 pm at the ROM Theatre and Sunday, May 1 at 6:15 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

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