Scandal over fake documentary Lovemobil – suddenly the award-winning film about sex work turns out to be a fake


Staged instead of documented: the director Elke Margarate Lehrenkrauss shot most of the scenes in her documentary about prostitution with actors.

To show the mobile homes of sex workers: excerpt from the supposed documentary film «Lovemobil».

Photo: PD

The award-winning documentary “Lovemobil”, published last year, was celebrated at international film festivals. The film shows the life of three prostitutes in Lower Saxony who live and work in mobile homes. The German director Elke Margerete Lehrenkrauss received the German Documentary Award for her work. The film was recently nominated for the Grimme Prize.

Ultimately, the German filmmaker succeeded in giving an authentic insight into the otherwise hidden lives of sex workers, pimps and suitors – at least that’s what they thought so far. Now it turned out: Many scenes of the supposed documentary have been staged. Almost all of the protagonists are actors and actresses.

This was revealed by reporters from «Strg_F» – this is an editorial team that belongs to the public broadcaster NDR, of all things, which also produced the documentary. The broadcaster wrote in a statement: «’Lovemobil’ is said to have been created on the basis of many years of research by the author, but the main protagonists of the film do not describe their personal experiences, they play a role. Numerous situations are simulated or staged. “

Actresses instead of sex workers

According to research by «Strg_F», the main characters, the prostitutes who live in love mobiles, are actresses. «Rita», an English-speaking prostitute from Nigeria, who tells in the film about her dramatic trip on a boat to Italy, is actually an actress from the USA. “Rita’s” Bulgarian colleague “Milena” is also an actress who only came to Gifhorn to film. Only pimp Uschi is actually real. However, your conversations with the fake prostitutes are all staged.

It is a case that is strongly affected by that Scandal about “Spiegel” reporter Claas Relotius remind. The NDR editorial team was made aware of the fake by «Strg_F» through an anonymous tip. As it turned out later, this was Irem Schwarz, who had worked as an editor on the film. She noticed inconsistencies while processing the raw material. The suspicion that «Rita» was an actress arose when she described her escape from her homeland in several takes with the same emotionality. When Schwarz confronted the director, she is said to have denied that they were actresses.

Director blames broadcaster

«Ctrl_F» looked into the matter. In the course of the research, the reporters spoke not only with the protagonists, but also with the accused director. At the beginning she shows herself to be very self-confident and is not aware of any guilt. “I definitely can’t blame myself for having falsified reality because this reality that I created in the film is a much more authentic reality,” she says to “Strg_F”. Instead, she accuses the NDR of not having made any inquiries about authenticity. The NDR rejects these allegations.

When asked why she did not mark staged scenes as such, she replies: “I missed that.” It becomes clear in the course of the research: Lehrenkrauss initially had the intention to film real sex workers. But then the main character, the real Rita, jumped off – she was pregnant. According to Uschi, the pimp who rents out Lovemobile to prostitutes in Gifhorn, Lower Saxony, “her girls” didn’t want to be filmed. So a replacement had to be found. The director told «Strg_F» that she had used actresses to protect women from the public. The problem: Now everyone who saw the film believes that the protagonists are prostitutes, suitors or pimps.

Disparaged private individuals

Private individuals now also have to struggle with this. There is, for example, “Heiko”, who plays an ice-cold pimp in the documentary. In one scene he tells “Rita” that he has a problem with the color of her skin. Otherwise he only had white prostitutes and she was black. According to his own statements, the real Heiko would never have said these words – the whole time he thought that he was part of a feature film. Although he worked in the red light district for a while, he is now the caretaker, says Heiko.

“It’s a bit uncomfortable,” he says. “I feel a bit deceived and ripped off there now. It’s not real, and I don’t think it’s okay that a lot of people, who can’t help it, also appear unpixeled in this film, da to be drawn into it. ” Because his buddy Hermann also took part in the film – as a suitor. The image now sticks to the gas station employee. Even the US-based actress who portrays “Rita” only finds out through “Ctrl_F” that her scenes were not marked as staging.

Sender distances itself from the film

NDR editor Timo Grosspietsch, who was responsible for the documentary film, also grabs the reporters. According to Grosspietsch, the director signed a contract with the broadcaster in 2014 to make a documentary. «The business foundation this film is reality and authenticity. That you have to reckon with the fact that she works with actresses and completely stages scenes, if not almost the entire film – dhat I could or almost cannot imagine», Says Grosspietsch in an interview. «But it seems to be so.»

Lehrenkrauss never made it clear to him that “Lovemobil” was a film that contained fictional elements, exchanged actresses or reenacted scenes. When asked whether the documentary film editorial team did everything right, Grosspietsch had to think for a long time.

The “Lovemobil” scandal sparked a heated discussion. What exactly is a documentary, what is it allowed, what is it not allowed to? Staged portions in documentaries have polarized the industry for a long time. TActually, these occur again and again, for example when protagonists have to repeat interview statements or have actors repeat their statements. However, the NDR has clear guidelines for this: “The documentary film is committed to reality and truth, and it must be marked in the film if characters or situations are not real.”

“I had a deadline”

However, Lehrenkrauss did not apply this label. Only after several conversations with «Strg_F» does the filmmaker appear remorseful and explain how, from her point of view, this debacle came about. «Ich had a deadline, and i believee, i have that [Film] Completed one day before the deadline, so to speak“, she tells. «I actually only had sleepless nights, then the film was finished, and since, at this point, I missed it, to be clearly marked

When asked whether she regrets it now, Lehrenkrauss says: «I.I regretted it all along. I would love to have this wahnsensible stimulatingn Discussions gefcoincidence, and somehow went is Not. I just missed the point.“The NDR has now taken the film out of the media library and is examining legal consequences according to a statement. The nomination for the Grimme Prize was withdrawn by the responsible commission.

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Scandal fake documentary Lovemobil suddenly awardwinning film sex work turns fake


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