Education Program


The Goethe-Institut San Francisco’s 22nd Berlin & Beyond Film Festival (Feb 9-15, 2018) and the North America youth portal Step Into German proudly announce the winners of the fifth edition of the Youth 4 German Cinema program, a unique student-juried competition offering high school students the opportunity to participate in an internationally recognized film festival. The awarded films, which will screen during the festival at the legendary Castro Theatre movie palace, were chosen by a jury of six students selected from over 100 applicants from across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

JURY MEMBERS 2017-2018

  • Liam Arnold, 16, Bel Air, Maryland
  • Erick Cardona, 16, Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
  • Dean Gelling, 16, West Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Sofia Kajzer, 15, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Lea Pailassard, 18, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Elizabeth Wood, 18, Albany, Oregon

The six jury participants will fly to San Francisco and receive an all-access experience to the festival, where they will walk the red carpet on Opening Night, introduce their film selections and participate in on-stage discussions at the Youth 4 German Cinema screenings. They will participate in Film Camp workshops with industry professionals and delving into special topics such as acting and film production.

“Now in its fifth year we can really feel the impact that the Youth 4 German Cinema program has had on its young participants,” said Julia Koch, coordinator of Y4GC. “Over the years more and more high school students have attended the festival for the special screenings of our youth films. Teachers and students look forward to this field trip all year and the experience carries over into their classroom discussions. For the jurors the program provides them with the unique opportunity to look behind the scenes of a major film festival and explore the art of filmmaking with professional educators in the field.”


© Universum/Gordon Timpen

The 2017-2018 Youth 4 German Cinema jury chose Markus Goller’s cross-generational sibling drama My Brother Simple as this year’s winning film. “This is an amazing film not only at face value, but also in its execution. It touches on mental illness, an issue that affects many more people than one might realize, and portrays it in a manner that is comical without compromising its own inherent sensitivity,” said juror Dean Gelling. “I liked My Brother Simple the most because of the way they portrayed mentally disabled people and the relationship between them and their family. Simpel was disabled but he wasn’t made to be pitied. I could identify with Simpel just as much as I could with Ben,” said the juror Liam Arnold.

 © Bernd Spauke/Wild Bunch Germany

The jury also sang from the same hymnal regarding the runner-up Rock My Heart by Hanno Olderdissen, praising “excellent cinematography” and “appealing storyline”. The film is about 17-year-old Jana, who, despite her congenital heart defects, seeks every challenge and embarks on the adventure of her life. “I liked the message of the movie: to never let your disabilities get in the way of doing something you love,” said juror Sofia Kajzer.


Courtesy of Management 360

The jurors will take part in a special workshop with German-American actress and filmmaker Caitlin Gerard, to gain insight into the film industry, the acting field, and film production. Los Angeles-born Caitlin Gerard has been in several major film and television productions, including John Ridley's American Crime for ABC, Dustin Lance Black's mini-series When We Rise, and the feature films Insidious: Chapter 4 and David Fincher’s Social Network. She also directed the short film Silent Night, and has two shorts in pre-production, Mirage and Prism.


Youth 4 German Cinema was designed to give high-school-age students input into the workings of an international film festival. Its goals are to increase multi-cultural awareness among students and educate them on the subject of international film, film criticism and the filmmaking process, as well as provide an entry point for youth to the cinema world of German-speaking countries.

Chosen from a pool of applicants from across North America, the Y4GC program of 2017-2018 will offer high-school-aged students across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada the opportunity to: go behind-the-scenes and participate at an international film festival; meet industry professionals; participate in a film camp; increase cross-cultural awareness through cinema; participate in the selection of two winning films for the Youth 4 German Cinema “Festival Field Trip” that will screen at the festival for hundreds of visiting students of middle schools and high schools.


See the two short films from past years of the Youth 4 German Cinema program:

2016: Youths on the Streets I Live
View Video

2015: The Festival Experience
View Video