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Mr Bachmann and His Class [Herr Bachmann und seine klasse]

Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Maria Speth’s enjoyable and profoundly moving documentary searches for the true meaning of home and community.

Documentary 2021 217 mins Not rated

Director: Maria Speth

Overview

Mr Bachmann and his pupils (aged between 12 and 14) live in Stadtallendorf, formerly the site of a secret Second World War munitions factory and now an industrial town that’s home to generations of economic migrants. The class is representative of this history, with several recent arrivals still struggling with the language of their new home. All the while, their sexagenarian, rock band T-shirt wearing teacher’s effortlessly egalitarian approach encourages students to develop empathy for one another through openness and listening. Shot over six months, Reinhold Vorschneider’s patient cinematography works with the spontaneity of the classroom environment to lend emotional weight to even the most fleeting moments. The pacing and observational method call to mind the work of Frederick Wiseman, yet Speth’s intimate approach creates an engaging and tender drama.

Screened as part of the Journey strand.