MR BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS is an intimate documentary portraying the bond between an elementary school teacher and his students. His unconventional methods clash with the complex social and cultural realities of the provincial German industrial town they live in.

Director's Statement

Dieter Bachmann and I have known each other for decades. After he had started to work in Stadtallendorf as a teacher, he kept telling me for years about this town and the students of Georg Büchner School, and how I should really take a look myself.

By visiting Dieter Bachmann in his class, you will experience a teacher who builds a personal, emotional rapport with his students. Someone who does not merely impart knowledge but who involves his full personality with all his weaknesses and strengths. Someone who has no taboos and engages his students without prejudice. Not in the service of political correctness but as lived, emotional openness without any hidden resentment. He creates an open atmosphere without fear in which his students feel safe, where they can show themselves and develop. School becomes their living room, a trusted space where they can talk about anything they have on their minds. With a teacher who in conversation challenges, provokes, encourages, strengthens, promotes solidarity and empathy. Someone who knows that strengthening self-worth can be more important than the Pythagorean theorem. Someone who throws all his abilities in the balance so non-academic skills can develop as well. Juggling. Shaping stone. Building tables. Dancing. Making music. Important activities to foster communication among the students and help overcome social, cultural, and linguistic barriers.

Director's Biography

Maria Speth is a writer, director, and producer of features and documentaries. Her graduate thesis film and debut feature THE DAYS BETWEEN premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2001, where it won the VPRO Tiger Award. It was also honored with the Grand Jury Award at the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival and the Mit freundlichen Grüßen-Star Award for emerging directors in Germany in 2001.

Her second feature MADONNAS won the Hessian Film Prize in 2007. The lead actress Sandra Hüller won the “Silver Astor” award for best actress at the Festival Internacional de Cine in Mar del Plata.

In 2009, Maria Speth founded Madonnen Film and produced her first documentary, 9 LIVES, which she wrote, directed, and edited, and for which she received the DEFA Foundation Award at the 2010 International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. In 2011, she was
awarded the Incentive Prize for Film and Media Arts from the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 2012, Maria received the German Metropolis Award as best director of a documentary.

Her feature DAUGHTERS premiered at the Berlinale and was released theatrically in Germany. In 2015, Maria received script development funding from the German National Film Fund FFA for her project
STADT ALLEN DORF that she shot as MR. BACHMAN AND HIS CLASS until July 2017. Mr Bachmann will be released theatrically in Germany by Grandfilm following its premiere at Berlinale 2021.

She is currently working on the feature films FOR KATE and ONE LIVES BECAUSE ONE IS BORN, both supported with funds through the German Federal Government.

2021 - MR BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS, documentary
2014 - DAUGHTERS, feature
2010 - 9 LIVES, documentary
2007 - MADONNAS, feature
2001 - THE DAYS BETWEEN, feature
1999 - BAREFOOT, short

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Maria Speth

Produced by: Maria Speth

Cinematography: Reinhold Vorschneider

Editing: Maria Speth

Sound: Adrian Baumeister

Nominations and Awards

  • European Documentary 2021
  • Documentary Selection 2021