Black Box

by Asli Özge

A pot-boiler about gentrification, prejudices and power play set in the microcosm of a Berlin apartment building. Directed by the multiple award-winning director of "Men on the Bridge", co-produced by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

For undisclosed reasons, the entrances and exits of a Berlin apartment building are blocked for the time being. No one gets in or out. Left in the dark by the police, the residents start to speculate. First, they assume there may be a bomb planted right outside the door. Then a rumour about a criminal hiding in the courtyard spreads. Suspicion turns into insecurities which turn into aggression. Prejudices bring polarisation, old conflicts come to light again and the residents start to suspect and denounce one another. In this situation of existential danger, they lose their mask of human decency. They start to show their real faces and each one of them pursues their own interests in this play of power and capitalism.

Genre / Language / Length
Drama / German / 120 minutes
Original title
Black Box
directed by
Asli Özge
director of photography
Emre Erkmen
produced by
Zeitsprung Pictures, Les Films du Fleuve in co-production with gilles mann filmproduktion, ZDF, Port au Prince Film & Kultur Produktion, VOO and Be Tv
  • Christian Berkel (ELLE, DOWNFALL)
  • Anne Ratte-Polle (WILLENBROCK, UNDINE, DARK)
  • Sascha Alexander Gersak (NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN)
  • Timur Magomedgadzhiev (TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT)

Press Quotes

"Asli Özge's new film shows a microcosm of society through a complex, puzzle-like mystery.The director builds a complex film that touches upon numerous topics... from the perils of gentrification to class inequalities and racial prejudice... what happens in the movie is certainly representative of the particularities of German society, but is also easily relatable to audiences in any European country, and probably in most of the Western world.”

"Black Box opened the New German Cinema section with a bang!"„Without seeming to do so, Asli Özge sends the audience not a metaphor, but rather a surgical X-ray of the state of our society - it's both humanly disturbing and cinematographically fascinating!“„Turkish filmmaker Asli Özge blows a breath of fresh air into German film production, with a breathtaking sense of dramaturgy.“„Imagine a film that begins as a comedy… and then slips surreptitiously into an inventory of the tensions running through society, ending with a crushing blow as reality bangs on the door of fiction to cross the screen! This is what unfolds before our very eyes in this huis clos that tears down the walls of "living together".“„Black Box is mastered from start to finish by the director, who holds her cast of actresses and actors in a frame that doesn't fix the characters… and by the cinematographer, who moves among the characters and different locations, making his camera dance with impressive precision and fluidity.“„Every dialogue hits the nail on the head."

“…a tense ensemble drama”
“it explores the architecture of pressure and prejudice that could, in the wrong combination of circumstances, turn anyone into a threat to their community.”„The film's universal themes of social prejudice and middle-class fears, reinforced by the backing of the Dardennes brothers' production company… should also help it gain attention further afield.“„All the small fears of everyday life are magnified, including the anxiety of no longer fitting into this neighbourhood – despite its ironic and increasingly evident lack of existing cohesion.“„Cinematographer Emre Erkmen captures the action with a close-quarters intimacy that reflects a community increasingly on the lookout…”„Much of the film's tension also rests on a commanding central performance from Luise Heyer“„Özge has an eye for the small triggers that can generate neighbourhood hostility... She also shows the wealth of microaggressions that can fuel a general sense of distrust, as neighbours jump to conclusions as much as a result of their existing beliefs as in response to what they have witnessed. The director also uses cleverly worked ambiguity about several characters to invite us to scrutinise our own preconceptions and expectations.“

"…beyond the possibility of interpretation on the day, there remains the certainty that Black Box, in its clever dramaturgy, in the way it weaves discourse into a concrete situation, in the outstanding characterization of its characters, in its sense of nuance, not least in the tension it creates, has a generality far beyond the day."
"Asli Özge is really doing everything right here."“Özge cleverly hints, leading the viewer to suspicion and mistrust - which she puts into perspective in the very next scene.”
“Özge never leaves what is possible, and she especially gives each of her characters an independent weight.”
"In its clever dramaturgy, in the way it weaves discourse into a concrete situation, in the outstanding portrayal of its characters, in its sense of nuance, not least in the tension it creates, Black Box has a universal validity far beyond the day."

“Özge cleverly uses the set of characters in a clearly defined space without becoming too didactic.”
“Much is skillfully left in a state of limbo that creates both tension and uncertainty for the audience.”
"Painfully clear in her observations, director Asli Özge holds up a mirror to our society with her ensemble drama "Black Box."

"Özge ... masterfully creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, insecurity and mistrust, where intrigue and conspiracy theories flourish."

"In many ways, then, Asli Özge's drama is a film of the hour."

"A memorable film"."Already one of the best German films of the year"

"...a philosophical gentrification thriller"

„Black Box is a razor-sharp analysis of the consequences of gentrification, housing shortages and fears of decline, and shows the increasingly absurd defense mechanisms - an old building ready for renovation as a metaphor for a disrupted country.”

“…an excellent thriller that is just as uncomfortable as German cinema desperately needs it to be - and it also is a stroke of luck for the Munich Film Festival…”
"a unique film in many ways and a very wonderful experience to see it."
"an unusual film, an excellent opening film for this section."
"This is finally a German film that deals with society...that allows conflicts to the same time, this is also a film that doesn't paint black and white, that allows even the unsympathetic characters moments of humanity.“"Perhaps the film's greatest strength is the atmosphere of conspiracy, of paranoia, which is very well established from the beginning."

"A realistic parable about how manipulable people are when they are afraid."

"Black Box uses a gentrification conflict to paint a picture of people under pressure whose neighborhood is crumbling. But [Asli Özge] doesn't just apply her diagnosis to a backyard, but to an entire country: to a society that has lost humanity in the constant crisis mode…”

“…looks into the heart of the German middle class, which is dropping its masks of prosperity in the crisis, and at the same time shows new tendencies in German cinema…: It has once again evolved and shows itself to be significantly more diverse linguistically, geographically and culturally than it was just a few years ago.”

Selected Festivals & Awards

Munich International Film Festival
Warsaw International Film Festival
Chicago International Film Festival
18th Rome Film Fest | Best Script | awarded
Mostra Sao Paulo International Film Festival