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Berlin Rebel High School

The Berlin School for Adult Education (SFE) has stayed true to its grassroots democratic principles since it was founded in 1973: no grades, no principal, and student autonomy instead of academic pressure.


The Berlin School for Adult Education (SFE) has remained loyal to its principles since its foundation in 1973: no grades, no principle, and autonomy as opposed to pressure. This is why it’s often the last chance for dropouts of all kinds to get their high school diploma. Director Alexander Kleider graduated from the school and is now returning in order to accompany the graduating year during three typical phases of Rebel High: enthusiasm, disillusionment, and productive stress. Most of all, Kleider challenges the German education system by showing this educational experiment. What kind of demands does the meritocracy have on the individual, what kind of society is being made?

All of the students that go to the Kreuzberg school have fallen through the cracks of the German school system in the past. They couldn’t stand being bullied by their classmates and teachers like Lena and Hanil, had problems with authority like Alex, or were just too bored. A German teacher like Klaus Trappman, who enriches the film with his wisdom and vision, would’ve probably recognized their talents in their other schools. But after 40 years in SFE he doesn’t see himself as being able to integrate in the normal school system. But what is normal? Teaching in classrooms or a course on Brecht’s Hollywood elegies in Trappman’s backyard? Memorizing all the facts for the final exam or daring to make philosophical leaps?

Kleider lets the protagonists speak for themselves and shows that fun and learning are not mutually exclusive. Competition doesn’t necessarily lead to success and antiauthoritarianism doesn’t mean laissez-faire. In the end almost everyone holds a diploma in their hands and they all feel proud and happy. Alex will pass his art exam next year, but in his case, it will be with facts and not philosophy.

Susanne Kim

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Deutschland 2016, 91 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Alexander Kleider
Author: Alexander Kleider
Distributor: Neue Visionen Filmverleih
Release: 11.05.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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