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This Ain't California is a celebration of the lust for life, a contemporary documentary trip into the world of roller boarding in the German Democratic Republic. A coming-of-age tale of three teenagers and their passionate love for a sport on the crumbling tarmac of the streets in the German Democratic Republic, which was considered very ill-fitting. The punk fairy tale is a story of the subversive powers of fun in that part of Germany, which had lost touch with its citizens. The film follows its three heroes from their childhood in the seventies through their teenage rebellion in the eighties, ending in the last summer of their life in the German Democratic Republic in 1989, when their life changed forever, and follows them to 2011.Written by
A wonderful documentary about skateboarding and the East German political system
I saw this film last night at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. As a passionate fan of anything related to Germany, I figured I'd enjoy it, and I did. The film revolves around a group of old friends who have gathered to reminisce about one who recently died. The deceased was the central and most popular figure in East Germany's emerging skate culture in the 1980s.
The film's story is told by the friends in personal interviews and with period film clips. Some of the clips are grainy or out of focus, which is understandable, given the time period and the difficulty of obtaining good quality cameras and film in East Germany. Rather than distracting, these clips give the film its authenticity. Life in East Germany was hard, as the friends make clear. Having never lived there, it's difficult to imagine the restrictions (e.g., skateboarding was considered an anti-Socialist activity) they constantly had to deal with.
The story is told with a mixture of humor and sadness, and it was thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It is a remarkable piece of filmmaking, never less than engrossing. The closeness and camaraderie evident among the friends will almost make viewers feel they are part of the story. My spirits rose and fell with them as the details emerged. The film's most important fact is not revealed until a few minutes before the end.
The film is also accompanied by an excellent soundtrack featuring a wide range of genres from techno pop to speed metal. Each tune is appropriately matched to the action in the film. Stay through the closing credits, because the song director Marten Persiel chose to play over them is a perfect summation of what you have just seen. Don't be surprised if you get misty. If this movie comes to a local theater, I will see it again, and I will definitely buy the DVD when it's released.
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