Sheriff Teddy © DEFA-Stiftung, Eberhard Daßdorf
|(Rammler) Deubener, Gudrun|
Divided Berlin, 1950s: 13-year-old Kalle lives with his family in Wedding in the Western Sector of the city. He devours stories of the Wild West, even sporting a sheriff’s star on his jacket and declaring himself the leader of a local clique of boys who call themselves the “Teddy Gang.” But when Kalle's family moves to the Eastern Sector, his braggadocio and love of action stories make it difficult for him to fit in with his new classmates, and he develops a rivalry with another boy, Andreas. One day, Kalle’s older brother Robbi—who remained in West Berlin—involves Kalle in a burglary and he must rely on Andreas to get him out of trouble.
This adaptation of Benno Pludra’s children’s book was the directorial debut of Heiner Carow (Coming Out, The Legend of Paul and Paula). It was filmed on location in Berlin, showcasing the divided city shortly before the Wall was built in a striking black-and-white style influenced by Italian neorealism.
|2020||Perspective German Cinema, Berlin Int. Film Festival|
“[The film] introduces the subject of youth torn between ideological frontlines and captures the distinct atmosphere of the divided city.” —Ada Bieber, “The Authority of Wax: The Child Flâneur in East German Cinema”
“Atmospherically accurate and sensitive DEFA children's film.” —filmdienst.de
“The film was intended to show young viewers the superiority of the East. Carow takes this task seriously, but he undermines the didacticism with unadorned images of the real Berlin. He allows his young hero to feel loneliness, melancholy and fear. The boy’s catharsis does not take place through the vaunted power of the collective, but through friendship with a sensitive classmate. Initially praised by critics, Sheriff Teddy was reprimanded on ideological grounds in 1958, after the end of a cultural and political thaw: instead of an outsider from the West, the party wanted perfect young pioneers at the center of a DEFA film.” —(rs), dhm.de