German TV pulls prostitution documentary which 'staged' scenes

The film Lovemobil reveals the sordid conditions endured by sex workers operating in camper vans in the German countryside.
The film Lovemobil reveals the sordid conditions endured by sex workers operating in camper vans in the German countryside.PHOTO: IFFF.DORTMUND.KOELN/FACEBOOK

BERLIN (AFP) - German public broadcaster NDR said it had pulled an award-winning German film documentary about prostitution which it had co-produced after discovering that "numerous" scenes had in fact been staged using actors.

The film Lovemobil, which reveals the sordid conditions endured by sex workers operating in camper vans in the German countryside, received much acclaim and won the German Documentary Film Prize upon its release in 2020.

Yet co-producer NDR said on Monday (March 22) that internal research by its own reporters had found that many of the film's scenes were "not authentic".

"The film is supposed to be based on years of research by the writer, but the central protagonists are playing a role, not describing their own personal experience," the broadcaster said in a statement.

"Numerous situations were either reconstructed or staged," it added.

NDR said it had removed the film from its online streaming service and had blocked it from being shown as a repeat on television.

The film's director Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss was also quoted in the statement saying she regretted failing to inform NDR that scenes had been staged, but insisting the film was true to reality.

"The reality that I created in the film is an authentic reality," she said.

The affair is the second time in recent years that a major media outlet in Germany has been forced to admit a lack of authenticity in its reporting.

In 2018, prestigious weekly news magazine Der Spiegel revealed that one of its celebrated reporters Claas Relotius had repeatedly fabricated details in his stories and investigations.