a memoir of fearlessness
Written by Gunn
Curzon films recently did a live Q + A discussion about the German Drama "System Crasher", beautifully directed by Nora Fingscheidt. Benni is a destructive 9-year-old girl, rejected from her mother at a young age, she faces troubling mental conditions such as anger management, schizophrenia, and impulse-control disorder. Labelled as a 'System Crasher', the German child protection services fight a losing battle to settle her into a 'conventional' home. We follow Benni as she unleashes her troubles grounded from abandonment, while the characters courageously attempt to nestle her indignation of the world.
There are many points to depict as to why this 5-star film should, and needs to be, witnessed. Whereby some viewers might have found it a painful watch, I was bait on a fishing rod within a few minutes in. From the first scene of Benni's explosive outrage in school, I understood this wasn't a sugarcoated exploitation of an orphaned girl.
Nora bravely depicts this story, bringing in her own realities from living in child protection in Germany, she uses her cinematic wisdom in the editing and music to create Benni's intensely perplexing mind. I relished in the directing of Benni, creating a two-dimensional character. One side of her is an overpowering adult, with a concerning about of fearlessness, spitting back at people more superior and elder than her, a notion most adults wouldn't even dream of confronting. We rarely see this depiction in children through films, as it gives the audience a feeling of conscious limitation as a result of overwhelming emotion. Adults in our society thrive for control over children, and when they can't obtain control or have them changed, they feel vexatious to have failed. Nora then reverses her persona, showing Benni's second side of innocence. Cradled by her mother, then later sneaking into Micha's bed to be hugged, this expresses on an age much younger than her own, and her own heartbreaking reality of dereliction. With the constant switch of both, it leaves the viewer suspiciously on edge with Benni, driving their own sensitivities into the scenes.
Listening to the humble director in her Q & A section, I could clearly see her passion came alive in the film through her journey. It's important for audiences to witness the truth behind closed doors, however uncomfortable it is to see the distressing lives some have to live. Movies like "Dallas Buyers Club" and "12 years a Slave" similarly come alive on our screens to shake our worlds, and provide a memoir of art seen through a keyhole of these heavy-hearted lives.