Volker Sattel

An Aged Utopia

What I had in mind was a film that opens up a new view on the subject of nuclear power – away from the reflexes mediated by media and ideology. I was less interested in the issue of nuclear energy in terms of individual aspects, but much more in a perspective that opens up a panorama of the nuclear establishment.

Together with Stefan Stefanescu, with whom I worked out the idea of the movie, I took a research trip to the places in Germany and Austria that can be gathered up under the term "atomic energy": nuclear power plants in operation and shut down, storages of radioactive waste, control agencies, research and training facilities. After some preliminary discussions, we had access to the world of these rigorously shielded systems. An equally fascinating and oppressive major technology was revealed to us, with all its former utopia and the legacy we have to deal with in the present.

In filmmaking, I am interested in the point of view. Cinema gives the view a form, it creates a space in which thoughts can emerge and that provides an insight into life. For my cinematic approach it is crucial that I can create my own point of view. I observe places and study what happens. I think carefully consider the camera position what I want to show.

The location "nuclear facility" implies that every interview and every camera take had to be agreed with the company's management. Thus, it was part of the cinematic approach to position myself within the representation of the power plant owners.

We often shot the interviews from a distant side-face perspective to expand the matter of meaning with the perception of how things have been said. I worked with the given situation. Instead of a commentary, I arrange my view in the framework of the image and in the editing in a fictionalized structure. I rely on cinematic fields of vision, in which the audience can judge for themselves. My cinematic offer is a projection for the experience and imagination of the viewer. However, the viewer can stick to the obvious, the evidence of what he sees in the motion picture.

The containment of risk.

In the brightly lit command centers of the nuclear reactors, the trust in the infallibility of technology of the operators seems undiminished. All conceivable scenarios have been thought through and simulated. However, the fission process in the core of the reactor remains invisible to the team.

Volker Sattel

(Unter Kontrolle) Germany, 2011, 98 min, English subtitles Production: Susan Schimk e Joerg Trentmann Special Achievement Award 2013 The film unfolds a panorama of atomic energy in Germany. Its broad perspective reveals the real challenges and enormous efforts that nuclear power demands from humankind.