System Crasher (Systemsprenger)
Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Gabriela Maria Schmeide
Controversial from the moment it premiered in Competition at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, documentarian Nora Fingshcheidt’s (Without This World) fiction feature debut System Crasher portrays the life of a chaotic young girl.
Wild and troubled, 9-year-old Benni (Helena Zengel) keeps getting expelled from one foster home after another due to her uncontrollable aggression. Too young to be held in treatment programmes and too violent to stay in group homes, she is a ‘system crasher’ – the unofficial, controversial name given to children who slip through the cracks of the German Child Protective Services. But all is not lost, and thanks to a caring child care worker, a seed of hope appears as Benni is given an anger management trainer to escort her to school and help during the days.
Helena Zengel is deeply impressive in her performance as Benni, commanding the attention of the viewer every second of the way, as Fingscheidt – who based her multi award-winning script on considerable research – demonstrates that it may not be the child who is too difficult to handle, but rather the system that is ill-equipped to deal with cases too far outside their tightly defined norms.