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71st Berlinale – ‘Mr. Bachmann and His Class’, the year when reality surpassed fiction

On this explicit version of the Berlinale, not solely the digital format or the particular summer season version to supply the titles to the public in secure situations are information: In occasions extremely marked by the world pandemic, it’s as if we now have gained a brand new consciousness, deeper, about the world round us, and how we’re related to others.

Documentary cinema, at all times current in the German exhibition, received a number of necessary awards in the class of Competitors, Encounters and Shorts on this version. Winner of the Silver Bear of the Jury in the Competitors part, the documentary by Maria Speth about Professor Bachmann and his elementary class at the faculty in Stadtallendorf, Germany, is one among the most wonderful jobs.

Produced between 2015 and 2021, the documentary presents us with the social and cultural reality of an industrial metropolis in the provinces from the standpoint of a category of kids between 12 and 14 years previous. With totally different ranges, pursuits and origins (from as much as 9 totally different nations) these college students are the reflection of a globalized world, at the identical time that they spotlight the social, cultural and linguistic boundaries that exist already in these early ages. Maria Speth intently paperwork their lives in the faculty setting, the place we see, hear and be taught from her courses with Professor Bachmann. He’s totally concerned with them, attempting to create a secure, open and non-judgmental surroundings, and make them see that they’re all legitimate folks, with their particularities and strengths, leaving apart their notes, origins and the current state of affairs.

And it’s that, past faculty achievements and the skilled path that may be opened to those ladies and boys, what’s at stake at that age is identification at the particular person degree. All through the greater than three hours of footage, one wonders if the faculty can actually forestall exclusion and marginalization, the dividing strains between ethnicity and educational achievement are so highlighted. One wonders if at some point these ladies and boys, though many already born in Germany, will cease feeling like foreigners or will proceed to name the nation the place their mother and father come from or the place they nonetheless have, a few of them, other than their household.

Along with serving as a mirrored image of the globalized world wherein we dwell, Maria Speth’s documentary is a mirrored image of the concrete reality of her nation, Germany. The historical past of the metropolis of Stadtallendorf can also be outlined with the immigration previous: The employment of foreigners that came about throughout the Nazi regime made the metropolis the largest producer of arms and ammunition in Europe throughout World Conflict II. Later, throughout the sixties, it was, like so many different German industrial cities, the vacation spot of staff from southern Europe (Italy, Greece, later Turkey). These often known as “Gastarbeiter” for having been invited to work in the rising nation that required labor, and who then determined to remain.

The result’s a gift with an enormous plurality of nationalities and religions, the place the idea of homeland and the feeling of belonging or feeling a foreigner purchase nuanced connotations. And it’s on this reality that the significance of Mr. Bachmann’s function turns into much more obvious. Somebody with whom college students can speak, chortle, shout, sing … be themselves, and be taught to respect others. I want all the kids had (I want all of us had) such a trainer.

by Aina Riu


This text is written in Spanish for El Séptimo Arte, and any translation or look in one other media is against the law and carried out with out the consent of the writer.

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