6 December 2013 4:20 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

A quasi-mockumentary about the fictional skateboarding scene in the old East Germany of the 1980s leads you up the garden path

Martin Persiel's This Ain't California is a weird quasi-mockumentary whose sneaky fictional inventions have been the subject of furious debate since the film played at last year's Berlin film festival. It is ostensibly about the skateboarding scene in the old East Germany of the 1980s, with fascinating ideas about how this scene stimulated individualist anti-communist thinking and how East Berlin's brutalist concrete architecture turned out to be great for skating. But the raw Super 8 footage has now been revealed as staged and the figures played by actors, and there is some doubt as to whether the legendary skating figure at the film's centre, Panik, is real, some kind of composite, or just out-and-out fantasy. Challenging the limits of factual cinema can be enlightening and reconstructions valid: they were used, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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