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The class register from "16UP" (photo © GAMBIT Film)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2003

“Documentaries have to be entertaining,” says filmmaker Samir Nasr, whose 16UP is a fly-on-the-wall slice of cinema verité, following seven 16-year-olds in their final year of school. “I’m a story-teller, but it’s not about faking them. It’s finding them and telling them to people. And to do that best you have to entertain.”

At a time when the younger generation is seen mainly in juvenile soap operas, viewed purely as a desirable consumer group or, worse still, as criminalized and victimized, Nasr believes “it is very bad to look for simple explanations. Take the kid who went on the shooting spree in Erfurt. The media said he played violent video games and left it at that. They dropped the subject after a week.”

In 16UP, Nasr “leaves out the prejudices in order to portray a generation of a school class, soon to graduate and go their separate ways. The idea was to seek out a couple of protagonists to explain today’s generation and to give them a voice as more than just a target group.”

Among his seven principal subjects, four boys and three girls, are Lorenz, the class revolutionary, admirer of Che Guevara and disruptive influence; Maja, who fled the war in Serbia but does not feel at home in Germany; Ufuk, who is Turkish, a fanatical soccer player and happy to have a better chance in life than his parents had, and Vivien, who is busy in Paris, learning the language and ways of the French, and getting to meet boys while she’s at it.

Production company GAMBIT are the people behind the hilarious documentary about vacuum cleaner salesmen in Swabia, Die Blume der Hausfrau (1999, dir: Dominik Wessely), which gained cult-status with more than 70,000 admissions. Their more recent drama Getting My Brother Laid (Mein Bruder der Vampir, 2001, dir: Sven Taddicken) screened in the German Cinema sidebar at the Berlinale 2002 and has won more than 15 national and international festival awards including the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Award at Rotterdam 2002.
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2003
Director Samir Nasr
Screenplay Samir Nasr
Cinematography Stefan Runge
Raimund Barthelmes
Producers Michael Jungfleisch, Christian Huenemoerder, in co-production with SWR
Runtime 90 min
Format 16 mm
Shooting Dates Stuttgart and Paris, June - October 2003
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg