Documentary Films


A film by Erik Winker and Corinna Wichmann

in commission for WDR (West German Broadcasting)

DigiBeta / 44 minutes / stereo / color

Armin and Marcel live in a home for troubled youth, Sebastian lives with his grandmother. All three have experienced violence from early childhood on, both as victims and as perpetrators. Brawls with neighborhood bands, expulsion from school, arrests and juvenile convictions are all par for the course. But now the three have decided to make a change: they want to get a handle on their aggression and start a new, violence-free way of life. A socialwork initiative called "Schlag.Fertig" seems tailored made to support them.  The name is a play- on-words in German, meaning quick-witted on the one hand, but could also be translated as: fight over. Here the boys will be able to confront themselves head-on.

"Schlag.Fertig", a joint initiative of the University of Cologne, the Protestant social welfare organization Diakonie, and Aktion Mensch Germany’s largest private youth welfare organization, is a pilot project for the prevention of violence. For one year, a group of trouble juveniles will be put through their paces in an uncompromising behavioral reform program. The goal is to train the boys to offer peer group anti-violence support by relating their experiences to young people with similar backgrounds and, hopefully, to keep them from making some of the same mistakes. But the good pedagogical intentions of the social workers repeatedly clash with the youths’ daily reality and violent biographies. Some of them quit early on, some reoffend and are expelled from school, or even kicked out of the program.

The film accompanies Sebastian, Armin and Marcel on their journey into a new life. All three of them find it extremely difficult to deal with the past and to open up to the social workers. They offer strong resistance, repeatedly backslide and often struggle with themselves. Each one of them handles frustration differently and it long remains unclear which of them will manage to go the distance. But by the end of the program at least two of the boys face great prospects for a real new beginning.

co-written and directed by: Erik Winker, Corinna Wichmann
producer: Carl-Ludwig Rettinger
commissioning editor: WDR - Enno Hungerland
DoP by: Jens Georg Kremer, Conny Beißler, Nadine Neuneier,
Steph Ketelhut, Panagiotis Costoglou
sound by: Shinya Kitamura, Sebastian Stahl, Ingo Baier, Philipp Freund
sound mixing by: Andreas Hildebrandt
editor: Anika Simon
narrator (German): Daniel Berger
music by: B. Bazzazian