This Ain’t California

Where does the truth end and the lies begin? The answer is extremely risky in this controversial, yet incredibly impressive debut. Marten Persiel chronicles the adventurous lives of a handful of wild young men who dared to start their own revolution against the oppressive system, introducing skateboarding culture into East Berlin and conquering the streets (and sidewalks) of a country that deeply distrusted western influences. Real-life characters and dubious narrative interventions, dazzling super 8 footage, quick editing, dynamic actors and ace archival material paired with animation and a boombastic soundtrack blur the boundaries between reality and fiction in a film that still remains a riddle. Heavily criticized for its rather unorthodox conception and promotion (it was screened as a straight documentary film in various festivals, winning non-fiction awards that it didn’t exactly merit!), it still manages to capture the unique atmosphere of East Berlin in the 80s, exposing a slice of history that very few people knew about.