Berlinale 2017: Kompagnon Fellowships

The Kompagnon Fellowships and stipends of EUR 5,000 were awarded for the first time at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival to System Crasher (Systemsprenger) by Nora Fingscheidt, and Der grüne Wellensittich by Levin Peter and Elsa Kremser.

With the Kompagnon Fellowships, Berlinale Talents and Perspektive Deutsches Kino have joined forces to support talented directors and screenwriters residing in Germany. The initiative does not, however, merely intend to further concrete film projects. In addition to strengthening the artists’ signatures, the mentoring program will provide the winners with professional coaching and a chance to network with the industry.

The jury commented on Systemsprenger (System Crasher) by Nora Fingscheidt, “Nora Fingscheidt’s Systemsprenger (System Crasher) outlines the story of nine-year-old Benni, a problem child whose mother, unable to cope, hands her over to the authorities. But Benni proves resistant to all corrective measures – that is, until social worker Micha decides to risk establishing a personal relationship with the child and in doing so crosses a line.

A disquieting, sensitive, and very well researched portrayal of our educational system and a poignant humanistic plea for those labelled difficult, non-conformist, or dysfunctional.

Nora Fingscheidt refrains from providing answers, but instead lets the questions she has raised resound in space. Systemsprenger touched our hearts and lastingly affected our thinking.”

In its statement on Der grüne Wellensittich by Levin Peter and Elsa Kremser, the jury commented, “Der grüne Wellensittich plays in Belarus and recounts the story of 34-year-old Mischa. At night he works as an autopsy assistant, during the day he paints corpses in oils. Mischa gets to know 17-year-old Anna, whose suicide attempt made it possible for them to meet in the first place. For both of them, loneliness has led to an obsession with death – yet out of this situation, authors Levin Peter and Elsa Kremser unleash the most beautiful forms of feeling alive: creativity and love.

This fiction film treatment has realistic protagonists, in particular Mischa, who is supposed to play himself. Interweaving documentary principles and staged components, this experimental hybrid exploration promises to produce an extraordinary film in both form and content. This is all the more so because the authors never seem to judge or interpret – neither the people, nor the world in which they are trying to define themselves. Instead they observe and let spaces emerge that are driven by compelling images and characters, and not by authorial narrative intentions.

When a radical trust in one’s material is stronger than all fears of rejection, then it becomes possible for unforgettable films with a heartbeat to evolve. Der grüne Wellensittich has this potential.”

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