Opening 28 Feb 2019
Director Radek Wegrzyn films in the Leysin American School, located in the Swiss Alps. LAS is one of the top five international, English-language schools in Switzerland, which accepts students from billionaire families worldwide. Here we meet teenagers from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, etc. But the star of the film is Berk from Turkey, in grade 11. Berk’s father has serious plans for his son’s future. Berk says, “My father doesn’t see me as the perfect boy, but my dream is to return to Istanbul, meet up with friends, and open a bar.” We watch Berk go skiing, participate in a school musical, and interact with his classmates in a friendly way. He is a nice boy, but his grades are not up to his father’s expectations, which result in his father canceling his credit card. Grades are important because they lead to the top universities and his father intends to send him to Vancouver.
In this thoughtful film, we realize that Berk could be your typical student from any school anywhere in the world. What a relief to know that young people are the same everywhere, with the same dreams and problems; money is not a guarantee for satisfaction. Also, we witness the teachers as they try to find a balance between the two generations, supporting the goals of the parents, while showing full understanding for the young people. Die Schule auf dem Zauberberg showed at the 2018 Filmfest Hamburg. (Becky Tan)