Mr. Bachmann and His Class
The Jury Prize winner at the Berlin Film Festival, Maria Speth’s engrossing documentary is an immersive portrait of a skilled school teacher.
Dieter Bachmann teaches 12- and 13-year-old pupils at a school in Stadtallendorf near Marburg, in central Germany. He teaches music, history, art, German and maths. His pupils are a mix of German, Turkish, Bulgarian and Russian. In addition to the subjects he covers, his classes aim to encourage the pupils to understand each other’s cultures, an early exercise in tolerance and acceptance. Over the course of the film’s lengthy but riveting running time, Speth not only highlights the challenges Bachmann faces, but also the importance of people like him in the development of future generations. Like Nicolas Philibert’s equally acclaimed 2002 documentary Être et Avoir, Mr. Bachmann and His Class shows the invaluable role teachers and school systems play in a fair and open society – a fact that is all too often overlooked or underappreciated.