An unusually interesting documentary, “Night Service Station” focuses an unblinking camera on the nighttime customers and staff of a gas station and general store in a provincial town during the 1998 World Cup. Result is a microcosm of contemporary Germany that should be on the slate for forthcoming docu fests, with specialized TV programming also indicated.
Filmmaker Samir Nasr’s straightforward approach is to let the people he films speak for themselves. Many are regular customers who get used to the camera crew over the few weeks and greet them as old friends. With soccer fever at its height (Germany was eventually defeated by Croatia) during the hot summer, these small-towners are candid in speaking of their aspirations, their prejudices and the daily reality of their lives. One character, an ebullient Turkish youth, is jailed during the period of shooting over a stabbing incident; otherwise, nothing obviously dramatic occurs, but there’s a feeling that this document is capturing something essential to middle Germany. Pic is presented on 35mm blown up from 16mm and, unusual for this type of film, a music score is effectively used.