Young actress Helena Zengel delivers an unforgettable performance in this raw, heartrending portrait of a girl struggling to forge a family bond despite severe behavioral issues.
Nine-year-old Benni (Helena Zengel) might look sweet, but don’t let the angelic appearance fool you. She’s what’s known in the child welfare system as a “system crasher:” a kid whose out-of-control behavior is so disruptive and dangerous that she’s nearly impossible to place in a group home or foster family. Benni acts out partly because she doesn’t want to settle for a new home. All she wants is to live with her mother, a put-upon woman who’s incapable of handling her daughter’s volatile temper. Desperate for love yet prone to vicious attacks and shrieking outbursts, Benni has driven even her tireless caseworker Maria (Gabriela Maria Schmeide) to the point of despair. Hope comes in form of tough but caring volunteer Micha (Albrecht Schuch), but will his unconventional methods be enough to do the seemingly impossible? Director Nora Fingscheidt and her gifted lead actress urge the viewer to care for Benni without soft-pedaling her destructive, sometimes disturbing behavior. Never resorting to easy answers, System Crasher offers a nuanced look at the way modern society still struggles to do right by its most vulnerable members.
CAST: HELENA ZENGEL, ALBRECHT SCHUCH, GABRIELA MARIA SCHMEIDE, LISA HAGMEISTER
All sales are final. Admission is not guaranteed after scheduled start time.
CLICK HERE to return to the complete 28th Philadelphia Film Festival schedule.