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65 Ratings

This Ain't California

Directed by Marten Persiel
Germany, 2012


A hymn to the subversive power of vitality, this fast-paced documentary takes us on a trip through the strange unknown world of the ‘Rollbrettfahrer’ as skateboarders were known in the GDR, a country where besides those loyal to the regime, there was also an avowed political resistance.

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This Ain't California Directed by Marten Persiel
[The film] runneth over with indelible characters and setpieces, from the mustachioed Patrick Steffens… to a 1988 “Euroskate” competition that brings together the best skaters from the Eastern Bloc. Did that really happen? Google says yes, but who can be sure? Did the skaters eventually come under surveillance by the Stasi, who, in an effort to curb their subversive pastime, had competitive skate jumping declared an official national sport? Maybe not, but it makes for terrific cinema.
April 15, 2013
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Described in the publicity notes as a “hybrid documentary” — whose degree of fictionalization is still being debated — “This Ain’t California” offers a vivid immersion in the hidden skateboarding culture of the former East Germany.
April 11, 2013
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While it might eventually invite you to question its judgment as “nonfiction”—an animated sequence near the end depicts unlikely enlistee Denis’s final surrender to enemy fire in Afghanistan—the film is nonetheless appealingly locked in for its charting of anarchic energies.
April 10, 2013
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