This Ain’t California

Photo by Harald Schmitt

“With gripping dynamics, it mixes personal history with the collective memory of the German Democratic Republic. We’ve rarely been so splendidly manipulated.” — Berlin Film Festival Jury

Director: Marten Persiel
Year: 2012
Country: Germany
Running time: 90 mins

Producers: Ronald Vietz, Michael Schöbel
Screenplay: Marten Persiel, Ira Wedel
Photography: Felix Leiberg
Editors: Maxine Gödicke, Toni Froschhammer, Bobby Good
Music: Lars Damm
In German with English subtitles

Festivals: Berlin 2012

A punk odyssey of three boys, Nico, Dirk and Dennis, and their unwavering passion for skateboarding under the oppressive regime of the German Democratic Republic. Growing up inside soulless cement housing blocks, they escaped by free-boarding concrete catacombs on home-made skateboards. This epic coming-of-age saga, documenting their friendship from the 70s through to their last summer together in 1989, comes off like The Big Chill of skater docs: director Persiel reunites the group to reminisce about a friend who has recently died. Primarily told through Nico’s perspective, the film features a stunning mix of film techniques: animation, Super 8, archival fused with an eclectic soundtrack of frenzied tunes. It is Dennis whose star shines the brightest as the group’s wild-eyed, handsome, fearless and highly sexual leader. A love letter to skateboarding and to a dear friend, this engrossing tale reaches an emotional payout that will leave many teary-eyed. — AT