'A German Youth' - San Francisco In'tl Film Festival final week


The San Francisco International Film Festival continues through May 7 and there are many exceptional films that will be screened in the final week.

A brilliant documentary “A German Youth” directed by Jean-Gabriel Periot, a French –German-Swiss co-production screens on May 2 and 5th at Sundance Kabuki. It chronicles the conditions in West Germany in the 60’s and 70’s and protests by German youth against the state. Such a time created the Red Army Faction and the Baader Meinhof Gang.  Ulrike Meinhof was an established journalist who later became a spokesman for the left and participated in political violence against the state. She has claimed to have killed herself in a German Women’s Prison. This has since been disputed and is the subject of Uli Edel's “The Baader Meinhof Complex “(2008).

The director uses archival footage extensively for this portrait of the resistance of German youth to an authoritarian state. He begins with showing the efforts of young film students who were accepted to the DFFB - German Film and Television Academy Berlin, which was founded in 1966 as the first film school in West Germany. Thirty students, selected from over 800 applicants were the first students.  This work was produced in the spirit of the work of the Russian revolutionary filmmaker Dziga Vertov. Holger Meins, one of the members of the Baader Meinhof group, was one of the first students. 

"A German Youth" shows the work of these filmmakers who used film as a political tool to chronicle their society, to protest again housing problems, the mass media, and in particular instance the visit of the Shah of Iran to Berlin when the Iranian officials and the German police beat student protestors. It was this particular action which deeply affected Ulrike Meinhof and she later joined with Andreas Baader and Gudrun Esslin. 'A German Youth ' is a fascinating documents and one of the best films at this festival.


Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
April 29 29015