Benni (Helena Zengel) is nine years old and out of control. She is what social services deem a ‘system crasher’, a child so troubled that they are unplaceable: unfit for school, too violent for care homes, too young for a residential programme. Even her own mother has given her up, unable to give adequate care and frankly scared of her daughter’s uncontrollable outbursts. Benni does have one person on her side, her child welfare caseworker, who is determined to find her a home.
Although Benni and the film are fictional, Fingscheidt’s documentary background roots the drama in well-researched reality, revealing the daily challenges and frustrations of those working and living in the care system. However, the film’s true energy emanates from one source alone, the whirlwind of Helena Zengel in the lead role. It’s an effortlessly intense performance, with the young actress balancing the character’s anarchic behaviour with a haunting, melancholy streak.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:
Penelope Leach – Pyschologist, author of the international best seller, Your Baby and Child
Dr Jake Harvey – Consultant Psychiatrist with the Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – Sussex
Dr Leslie Ironside – Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and founder of the Centre for Emotional Development
Sue Ostmo – Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist
Jenny Leeburn (Chair) – Arts Forum of Psychotherapy Sussex