Good journalistic research takes time, and that is especially true when hidden things are to be brought to light.
This is also the case with the topic that Luca Zug and Alexander Spöri dealt with for their documentary "Liken.Hassen.Köten": the amok scene on the Internet.
Based on insights into investigation files, the filmmakers spent several months researching people with whom the perpetrator of the Munich rampage in 2016, David "Ali" Sonboly, exchanged information via a gaming platform.
They went to the hate-filled chat rooms that can be found on the forums of the video game portal "Steam", met teenagers and young men who worship gunmen as heroes and goad each other.
A self-written computer program helped them to analyze the international connections of these people.
Zug and Spöri also interviewed a scene dropout, who was one of the online acquaintances of the Munich perpetrator in 2016 and dreamed of his own killing spree.
It's not new that it exists, and "Liken.Hassen.Köten" isn't the first research on the subject of amok groups on the Internet.
But now "Paul" sits against the light of the studio lamp and tells the story full of remorse.
They are the most harrowing passages of a film that also consists of encounters with experts, constitutional protection officers, lawyers and atmospheric scenes.
Don't dismiss the entire video game scene as extreme
In the latter we see city lights, apartment blocks, children's rooms and dark figures played by actors wearing aggressively shimmering LED masks.
Welcome to the abyss, it can be reached from any student desk with two mouse clicks, and parents and teachers don't notice it.
The young, just 21-year-old journalists, who have already dealt with depression among young people and the survivors of the 2016 attack in earlier films, also stage themselves in this crisp visual language, but that probably belongs to their generation.
The internet world in which the 18-year-old German-Iranian David Sonboly was hanging around before he murdered nine people with a migration background is seething with hatred and fantasies of violence.
However, the decisive factor is not the so-called shooting games that are played here.
The extremism researcher Julia Ebner emphasizes that it is "enormously counterproductive" to "dismiss the entire video game scene as extreme".
The psychologist Karoline Roshdi also warns against the cheap calculation "Male plus violent games plus loners, that's the assassin": "Then we would have millions of assassins in Germany."
However, some gamers are prone to radical thoughts, and so the chat function of video game platforms such as "Steam" soon leads some curious people to areas that are referred to as the "amok community" in the documentation by "Paul", the interviewed scene dropout and who uninhibitedly cultivates right-wing ideas in relevant forums. "Paul" says that in 2016, as a depressed fifteen-year-old, he constantly thought about killing people, the associated weapons and plans for storming his school because of these echo chambers.
It was only when he boasted on social media after Sonboly's attack in Munich that he knew the perpetrator from the forums that he was reported by a user, arrested by the SEK and treated in a psychiatric clinic.
That's the good news of this shocking documentary: there are people who alert the police when comments on the Internet point to plans for an attack.
The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution also seems to be keeping a “better” eye on the gaming platforms: “Yes, we are still not optimally positioned,” says the President of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan J. Kramer.
"But I'll also say quite clearly: We're already a lot better than we were a few years ago."
What that means for Bavaria, whose constitutional protectors Zug and Spöri did not want to give an interview, remains open.
The filmmakers, in turn, received a visit from state security after their undercover research.
While the "potential threats" with whom the reporters were in contact are still active: "They recruit young people, instruct them in building bombs and help plan attacks.
They tell us that the authorities weren't at their door yet."
, at 11:15 p.m. on Arte.Keywords: