System Crasher (Systemsprenger), Nora Fingscheidt, 120’, Germany, ZDF 17.5.2021, OV with English subtitles

Nine-year-old Benni is loud, wild and unpredictable. Whether it’s a residential group, a foster family or a special needs school: Benni doesn’t stay anywhere for long. She pushes the welfare state’s support system to the limit. She would prefer to live with her mother, but she too is afraid of her daughter’s immense rage. This rage drives Benni through life and through the film until she ends up with the anti-violence trainer Micha in the forest in an experiential education programme: without electricity, water or a cell phone. “How is a child whose only continuity is change to find stability anywhere?” says the director, “Benni’s behaviour may be shocking but the audience is supposed to love her and fear for her.” Actress Helena Zengel manages to do just that with such force that the question is whether a child blows up the system or vice versa.

Nora Fingscheidt (*1983) is a German director and scriptwriter. With her short films, she has enjoyed success at festivals. Her first feature-length documentary was made in cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel. Without This World (2017) received the First Steps Award. Her international breakthrough came with the feature film System Crasher (2021), also a work for Das kleine Fernsehspiel, which won, among others, a Silver Bear at the Berlinale and the German Film Award.