© Picture Tree International/déjà-vu film

Chrieg (War)
Switzerland 2014

Opening 28 Apr 2016

Directed by: Simon Jaquemet
Writing credits: Simon Jaquemet
Principal actors: Sascha Gisler, Benjamin Lutzke, Ella Rumpf

Teenager Matteo feels misunderstood at home. His tattooed father has high standards and spends much time working out in a gym. His fat mother loves him, but the new baby in the family demands all of her attention. Matteo “flips out” in an extreme manner, a typical teenager’s solution to problems which he does not understand. His father overreacts and arranges, without explanation, for a stranger to pick up Matteo in a van and drive him high into the Swiss Alps to a so-called boot camp for delinquents. It is no more than a shed without internet or mobile phone, occupied by one adult, Hanspeter, who has no authority at all, as well as three “delinquents,” Ali, Anton, and Dion. These three take command of Matteo’s upbringing, which is drastic. They lock him in a cage or lead him around on a chain like a dog; he must eat shit from a bowl on the ground. Matteo excels in this training and graduates to become one of them. Together they prowl through the nearby town at night, deal in drugs, steal, and cause general havoc.

The title is Swiss German for German Krieg or “war.” The adolescents are fighting a war against adults and the rest of the world, which considers them losers. Perhaps some scenes are difficult to watch, but, unlike many films, it makes a long-time impression. Much praise goes to the actors in this, their first film. Benjamin Lutzke, for example, was discovered outside the Zurich train station.

Director Jaquemet, as well as the young actors, could add much of their own personal adolescent experiences to the overall plot. Chrieg won best first film and Lutzke won best new actor at the Max Ophüls festival which has been awarding prizes in Stuttgart to newcomers since 1980. Chrieg has played in more than 30 other festivals, including the Berlinale 2015. (Becky Tan)

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