Opening 11 Apr 2019
Writing credits: John Chambers, Anja Flade, Gerhard Holtz-Baumert, Mark Schlichter
Principal actors: Tilman Döbler, Alexandra Maria Lara, Devid Striesow, Leopold Ferdinand Schill, Lisa Moell
Eleven-year-old Alfons (Tilman Döbler) imagines that he is an astronaut, sitting in a space ship and solving world problems. One problem is an opened can of juice which flies around causing bubbles to land on the steering gear. Luckily, Alfons doesn’t yet have this serious responsibility; it is just a dream, and he must get out of bed and go to school, where life has other challenges. Here the problems lie in mobbing by a group of other boys led by Nico (Ron Antony Renzenbrink), who makes fun of his name Zitterbacke (literally “tremble cheek”) and jeers him to jump from a high diving board. Luckily he has his friend Benni (Leopold Ferdinand Schill), who plans to be a lawyer and already talks like one, as well as new friend Emilia (Lisa Moell), although a threesome is not Benni’s idea of friendship. We meet Alfons’ parents, who are doing their best. His father Paul, remembering his own problems growing up, can’t really give good advice. The Aircraft Contest is the answer: win the contest and you are on top. Alfons already has ideas for a rocket, but he might not be able to compete, due to an unfortunate explosion in chemistry class.
Alfon Zitterbacke is based on three children’s books written 1958, 1962, and 1995 by Gerhardt Holtz-Baumet in former Eastern Germany. It was first filmed in 1966 and then appeared as a TV series in 1986. Now director Mark Schlichter has widened the scope of Alfons into modern times in a united Germany, although he has retained some of the atmosphere by filming in Halle, also in the East. Germany’s most successful astronaut, Alexander Gerst, who participated in the International Space Station 2014 and 2018, plays himself. This is much fun for the whole family, especially due to the talented young actors and Thorsten Merten, who plays their teacher Herr Flickendorf. Also excellent is Devid Striesow, who plays the father, Paul; he was recently on stage in Hamburg and you will recognize him from a TV Tatort series. We can all learn from the moral of the story: To go fast, go alone; to go far, go with others.” (Becky Tan)