Justin Time (Künstlerische Mitarbeit):
Another new right-wing party, that's what I thought when the first AfD posters hung on the lamp posts in 2013/14. Their rapid rise put me in a state of political paralysis. How could it be that an openly right-wing, partly radical party was so successful in Germany in the 21st century? The consternation, "This can't be true" and "How can they be so stupid" (voters as well as members of the AfD) didn't help matters at all.
Simon's approach of making a film about the AfD and its structures, observing and analysing them at all hierarchical levels from the grassroots to the federal level seemed to me like an emancipatory liberation: out of mental numbness. Lifting one's head out of the sand and into the lion's den - this action, carried out with the camera, works against the reflex "It mustn't be, so I won't see it": the camera sees. It does so (initially), without judgement, but mere observation.
The AfD is a microcosm of individuals, tendencies, currents, wings. There are gays, lesbians, Jews and migrants, a few blacks and a few trans people in the AfD. There are frustrated revolutionaries from the 68-student-movement, former Christian-Democrats, former members of the neo-liberal party (FDP)... as well as former left-wing extremists. And right-wing extremists. There are protest voters and those who join the AfD out of the deepest racist convictions.
There is no one-way explanation for the party's success. Many have been outraged by it, but this has rather strengthened the party and helped it to gain media attention. Making fun of them fails to recognise the seriousness of the situation and the thoroughly skilful moves that some of the AfD players are pulling.
What does the film do differently? It wants to understand the AfD phenomenon in its complexity, to analyse its structures and mechanisms. It does not present the party as a demon and not as a victim. Instead, it seeks a realistic assessment. In this way, he brings us back into a state of mobility and the ability to act. Not all AfD members are hardcore right-wing radicals. But the AfD succeeds in bringing unrest into political life, shifting discourses, blocking structures, rendering associations incapable of action, and consequently shaking other parties in their structures and contents. The social consequences are painfully visible.
The film is interesting because it uses aesthetic language to convey a clear stance. Through the lack of commentary, the film opens up the possibility of approaching an attitude that arises from observation rather than wanting to distance oneself from a tendentious commentary that tells us once again what we have already seen.