Apparently, film stock was very difficult to get in West Germany, yet This Is California has an large amount of footage that draws the audience in to this world of skateboarders in West Berlin in the 80s. And it is amazing footage – starting with Dennis, Nico and Dirk as small children and going through their unusual teenage lives.
The structure of the film works so well. This fabulous footage comes between the recording of a get-together of a lot of the key figures from the film, but who are now adults. They gather in the dilapidated area where they skated as kids to mourn the death of one of their own, who they lost track of after the wall came down and who has recently become and soldier and was killed in action. There is also some delightful animation that depicts key events of the film. This animation is not overused, but provides strong accents to key moments.
For me, this is one of the top documentaries of the festival both in terms of content and structure.