Can Benni’s newly-appointed anger-management coach succeed where others have consistently failed? Benni is a wayward nine-year-old ‘System Crasher’ - a near hopeless case on whom the system has all but given up. She Is expelled from one foster home after another for her wild and uncontrollable behaviour, but deep down there lies an enormous vulnerability. She desperately misses her mum, but her mum is afraid of her unpredictability.
Asking some pointed questions about the care system, this compelling drama features a ferocious lead performance from tomboyish young actress Helena Zengel, a whirlwind of dayglo pink clothing and blond hair who simply explodes off the screen. She was the 7th of over 150 young actors director Nora Fingscheidt interviewed for the part. Fingscheidt could not believe that she had found the ideal performer so early in the process, but soon realised that she was assessing every subsequent candidate against Helena’s trial, and that she had her Benni right there.
System Crasher has won numerous awards - eight wins at the Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards) 2020, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Writing, Best Editing, Best Sound Design and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Helena Zengel), also Best Actor (Helena Zengel) at the 2019 Santiago International Film Festival and the Audience Choice Prize for Best Feature Film at the 2019 Les Arcs European Film Festival. System Crasher was also selected as Germany’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
“…writer-director Nora Fingscheidt’s powerful, desperately moving debut…” – Nikki Baughan, Sight + Sound.
“…an astonishing central performance from the blonde-haired Helena Zengel, who veers from feral ferocity to desperate vulnerability with whiplash speed.” – Nikki Baughan, Sight + Sound.
“Nora Fingscheidt’s script and direction are marvels” - The Upcoming.
“Punkishly propulsive… a portrait of a child in the grip of a troubled psyche.” – Danny Leigh, The Financial Times.
“There are times, when Zengel is performing with other children, especially younger children, when you get the strange sense that this isn’t acting – it is actually happening.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.
Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Lisa Hagmeister