Our April to June season of films had to be cancelled just as we were ready to announce it, so instead, each week we’re revealing which film we were planning to show (and where you can watch it instead), and picking another film that’s connected in some way and which we think you’ll like.
Our film this week was due to have been SYSTEM CRASHER, a compassionate portrait of childhood trauma and anger from Germany.
She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni (the outstanding Helena Zengel) ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mother. But Bianca is scared of her own daughter. Mrs Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired?
The film won prizes at festivals around the world, including a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, and was Germany’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2020. Zengel’s terrifying performance as Benni powers the film; “there are times, when Zengel is performing with other children, when you get the strange sense this isn’t acting, this is actually happening” (The Guardian).
Also looking at the world of troubled children and the care system, but this time from a US perspective, our second recommendation this week is SHORT TERM 12 from 2013.
At a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers, Grace (Brie Larson) is a young counsellor trying to do her best for kids who often have been pulled from the worst kinds of home situations. Grace and her colleagues care for kids who are too often profoundly scarred, even as they try to have lives of their own. Now, things are coming to a head as Grace reaches a critical moment of her life just as some her charges are coming to major turning points in theirs. To cope, Grace will have to make difficult perceptions and decisions that could put her career, and more importantly her charges, at dire risk.
The film won awards at festivals from Locarno to Los Angeles, Hamburg to the Hamptons, and received by critics as a “vivid and heartfelt depiction of social work” (Chicago Reader) anchored by “a barnstorming performance from Brie Larson” (Little White Lies).
The film can currently been seen on a range of platforms, including BFIPlayer, Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube.