An Actress's Thoughts

Polizeiruf 110: The Other German Top Cop Drama

Last month I published my research including a 6-divisions-check on Germany‘s top cop drama (produced by German public broadcaster ARD) TATORT / CRIME SCENE 2011 to 2018 (Crimes from A Male Perspective), after my other TATORT analysis at the end of Juli on six and a half years of th show (Who‘s been Seen on the Crime Scene?) As a reminder: the development is anything but good, in 2018 only 5.5 % of TATORTs scriptwriters and 0 % each of DoPs and sound mixers were female. When someone asked me about the POLIZEIRUF 110 numbers I had to pass, because I never really looked at them before. Mainly because there are always only a handful of films per year, from which it is difficult to draw substantial conclusions. Or is it?
So today, let‘s look at all POLIZEIRUFs that came out in the years 2011 to 18, individually and together with the respective TATORTs, with heartfelt thanks to Ariela and Susanne for the incentive.

Whoop Whoop, the Police is coming!

POLIZEIRUF 110 literally translates to police call 110, with 110 being the national emergency  number to call the policein Germany of the past and present. POLIZEIRUF 110 is a television series from the GDR, which first broadcast on 27.6.1971 the film DER FALL LISA MURNAU. Until 1990 it was produced by the GDR television, until 1993 by DFF Deutscher Fernsehfunk and afterwards by the various ARD broadcasting stations within the combined Germany. For comparison: the first of the originally West German TATORTs was broadcast on 29.11.1970, called TAXI NACH LEIPZIG.
The first decades of POLIZEIRUFE obviously were filmed in the GDR, later in East German cities. But there were and still are exceptions: Vienna (4 films), Heilbronn (3), Munich/Nuremberg (6), Offenbach (8), Volpe (8), Bad Homburg (4) and Munich (36) (all figures without guarantee, they are from Wikipedia, and that is not a 100% reliable source. More about the history of POLIZEIRUF is compiled on the ARD website).

I can only guess why there are POLIZEIRUFs in West German cities as well now. But I don’t understand why they installed one in Munich as well in 1998, because there’s a TATORT-Team already, played by Miroslav Nemec (*1954) and Udo Wachtveitl (*1958) since 1991, so far with about 80 cases.

Even though it feels like there are currently around 612 TATORT-Teams active, it’s only 22. POLIZEIRUFs are rarer, at the moment they operate in four cities:
Rostock: since 2011 with Charly Hübner (* 1972) and Anneke Kim Sarnau (* 1972)
Frankfurt / Oder: since 2012 Maria Simon (*1976) and Lukas Gregorowicz (*1976)
Magdeburg: since 2013 Claudia Michelsen (*1969) and Matthias Matschke (*1968)
Munich: from 2019 Verena Altenberger (*1987).

I mentioned the years of birth of the

investigation teams of the same age for a reason: Munich. There the teams in the past tended to consist of an older alpha-male and a younger, lower-ranking female colleague or assistant at his side, or a lone wolf inspector. (For the TATORTs I haven’t investigated it yet,  this is a topic for another day).
Back to Munich. Edgar Selge (50) started as top copper in 1998, 3 years later (Selge now 53), 49-year-old Michaela May joined his team. Selge was succeeded by 66-year-old Jörg Hube, with  assistant Stefanie Stappenberg (35). Because of the early death of Jörg Hube, Matthias Brandt (50) took over in 2011 as Hanns von Meufels, with 29-year-old Anna Maria Sturm as his assistant. But she left after three years. In von Meufels‘ last case (Brandt now 57) in late 2018, his new young colleague Nadja Micoud (played by Maryam Zaree, 35), was shot in the line of duty, mainly because of the misconduct of von Meufels who was nursing his midlife crisis and let her check on a suspect on her own while he was whining on the phone to his ex-girlfriend. I hope that the first case of his young successor will reveal some sort of disciplinary reaction to von Meufels inprofessional conduct.

110 and other Numbers – 6-Divisions-Check of POLIZEIRUF

The first illustration shows the 6-divisions-check (direction, script, camera, composition, sound and montage) for the 8 years POLIZEIRUF. I have used the films as listed on the ARD website, and added missing information about Filmportal, Crew United and IMDB.
With an average of less than eight POLIZEIRUFs per year, it is unfortunately no surprise that there are large gaps; we see were four years alone in which only one woman worked in one department each (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017), and there was no year in which at least one woman was in the team in all six departments.

Viewed in detail: Only one sound engineer, Petra Gregorzewski, was employed in the eight years (CRASH 2018), two DoP‘s, Bella Halben (DENN SIE WISSEN NICHT, WAS SIE TUN 2011) and Jutta Pohlmann (MORGENGRAUEN 2014) – their different shares are due to the different number of films in the years. In three years there were a total of 4 female composers: Alexandra Barkovskaya, Christiane Aufderhaar and Kat Kaufmann, as well as Caroline Kox together with two colleagues. Every second year exactly one POLIZEIRUF was given to a female director (Esther Wenger, Angelina Maccarone, Hermine Huntgeburth and Maris Pfeiffer). And the montage? Yes, every year had several female editors, and no female share was under 40 %, in 2012 they even reached 100 %. In the other cop drama on Sunday nights, the TATORTs, the female editors always came to over 50 %, which corresponds to the proportion of women among the editing alumni (51%), but I’ll come to that in a little later. First let‘s take a look at the stories, the plots, the content – who wrote the scripts? ,Only’ three years without female participation, and in 2017 there is an impressive 60 %, but why does it have to be so extraordinary that female authors are disproportionately represented? Male authors are overrepresented almost every year.
The following figure provides information about the authorship of the 59 POLIZEIRUF screenplays:

37 male and 2 female authors wrote their scripts alone. There was one women’s team, Ariela Bogenberger and Astrid Ströher (NACHTDIENST 2017, directed by Rainer Kaufmann) and eight mixed teams. Of these, seven wrote in the combination screenwriter / director. Of the eleven male teams, six wrote as scriptwriters / directors. Of course, I don’t know how this came about in detail. Maybe there are directors who rewrite an already finished script and get a credit as co-writer. And then there are also directors who write their own scripts, but with a co-author from the beginning. Director Eoin Moore, for example, wrote three scripts on his own (FEINDBILD 2011, STILLSCHWEIGEN 2012 and FAMILIENSACHE 2014), and five more together with Annika Wangard (Thomas Kirchner was also involved in the books for the WENDEMANÖVER films, or even named first). Only in DÜNNES EIS 2017 he did not direct the film himself, there it was Jochen Alexander Freydank.

To repeat once more: of 59 scripts only 3 were written by women without men participating.

As already mentioned in the beginning, analyzing the POLIZEIRUF alone may not lead to significant results. But since they share the Sunday evening thriller slot of the ARD with the TATORTs, we can take a look at them together.

Comparing POLIZEIRUF and TATORT from 2011 to 2018

Between 2011 and 2018, there were 351 new ARD Sunday evening thrillers, an average of 43.9 film premieres in 52 weeks, with an average of 36.5 TATORTs and 7.4 POLIZEIRUFs per year. The share of POLIZEIRUF in the cop dramas was between 13 % (2015) and 21.7 % (2011).

The next illustration shows the three 6-divisions-checks (click to enlarge): TATORTs, POLIZEIRUFs and both formats taken together. It‘s clear that the POLIZEIRUFs do not fall out of the frames when comparing the first and third images, they only modify the crime scene values minimally either way:

And finally, the shares of women in the 3 groups separated by department. The light blue reference line is the proportion of women among the film graduates in the respective trades, these are the same values as in the previous three illustrations, but grouped by departments:

It may make sense to criticise that in the previous illustrations the focus was too much on the film women, therefore here we are the six departments once again for the three film groups TATORTs, POLIZEIRUFs and both together, however this time the percentage shares will be of the film men. The pink dotted line shows the proportion of graduates from film schools as a reference value (there is no comparative value for composition). With the exception of montage, men were almost always and everywhere employed in disproportionately large numbers:

The figures presented are neither particularly amusing nor satisfactory, and the described situations are not really new either. But it does not have to stop there. As always, it would be possible to establish the #2v6pN concept, this time for the POLIZEIRUFs (for more information on that, see German Top Films 2012 to 2018). What else? How about having only TATORTs and POLIZEIRUFs produced in 2020 with scripts written by a woman, as an attempt to compensate for the last years or decades. Or – a more modest version – only with scripts where women were involved, at least as co-authors. The ARD could voluntarily commit itself not to let any POLIZEIRUF year go by, in which there wasn‘t at least one woman once head of each of the six departments. And it is also possible to set quotas for female directors, DoP and sound women. No matter what will be done, things cannot go on as before.

As a reminder, we are writing the year 2019.