This Ain’t California

This Ain’t California is a celebration of the lust for life, a contemporary documentary trip into the world of skateboarding in the German Democratic Republic.

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From the opening sequence, director Marten Persiel bombards us with a frenzy of home videos intercut with old GDR stock footage set to equally frenetic tunes. The film begins with the story of three teenagers (Nico, Dirk and Dennis) growing up in 1970s GDR, living in a faceless cement block of apartments, but having the blissful ignorance of youth and the entertainment of their home-made skateboards. Come the ’80s and Nico has moved to East Berlin with his mother, and fallen in with the local skateboarding kids who hang out at super-hip Alexanderplatz. It’s not long before Nico invites Dennis for a visit to the big city, and it ends up being the escape Dennis needs. The two form a deeper bond that revolves around the freedom of being young, exploring who you are, and skateboarding.

The film follows its three heroes from their childhood in the seventies through their teenage rebellion in the eighties, ending in the last summer of their life in the German Democratic Republic in 1989, when their life changed forever, and follows them to 2011. Highly recommended, regardless of if you’re into skateboarding or not, this ain’t California. This is Berlin. And it’s rad.