SYSTEM CRASHER

She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni 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 mommy! 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?

Film Credits

Original title: SYSTEMSPRENGER
Production country/ies: Germany
Language/s: German
Duration: 118 min.

Directed by Nora Fingscheidt
Written by Nora Fingscheidt
Produced by Peter Hartwig, Jonas Weydemann, Jakob Weydemann, Frauke Kolbmüller
Cinematography by Yunus Roy Imer
Edited by Stephan Bechinger, Julia Kovalenko
Production Design by Marie-Luise Balzer
Costume Design by Ulé Barcelos
Hair & Make-Up by Kitty Kratschke
Sound by Corinna Zink
Original Score by John Gürtler
Visual Effects by Holger Hummel
Main Cast Helena Zengel as Benni, Albrecht Schuch as Micha, Gabriela Maria Schmeide as Frau Bafané, Lisa Hagmeister as Bianca Klaaß

Director's statement

While shooting a documentary about a home for dispossessed women, I heard the unofficial term "system crasher" for the first time, because the youngest resident was just 14 years old. There were no children's homes left willing to take the girl in. I couldn't get that term out of my head, so I started an intense research. During this period I met an 11-year-old boy who had been in 52 different institutions. "System crashers" are children with incredible strength and endurance, but still tragic figures. At a very early age they put all their opportunities of becoming integrated into our society at risk. How much energy does it take to drive so many trained child care workers to despair? What if it were possible to re-channel this energy and use it for positive purposes?

My motivation for making this film was to sensitise people to children like Benni. That's why the film is being told primarily from Benni's point of view. As spectators we develop a feeling for the confusing number of "homes", the changing guardians and the constant and dizzying disruption of relationships. At the same time, Benni draws us into the wild, uncertain, fantasy-filled world of a child fighting for her own sense of being. I wanted the film to bubble with energy and, despite the tragic nature of the topic, to be humorous and light-hearted. Just like Benni is. Although we may be upset – even shocked – by Benni's violent behaviour, we should learn to love her and to fear for her during the course of the film. Ever since I met my first "system crasher", I've known that I had to tell a story about one. Children's violence is a cry for help. Always.

About the director

Nora Fingscheidt was born in Braunschweig in 1983 and spent her childhood in Germany and Argentina. From 2003 onwards she supported the development of the self-organised film school filmArche in Berlin. At the same time, she completed her training as an acting coach by Sigrid Andersson. From 2008 to 2017 Nora studied Fiction Directing at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg.