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‘Mr. Bachmann and His Class’ Review: Frederick Wiseman-Inspired Doc Is One of the Year’s Most Hopeful Movies

‘Mr. Bachmann and His Class’ Review: Frederick Wiseman-Inspired Doc Is One of the Year’s Most Hopeful Movies
In “Mr. Bachmann and His Class,” one classroom becomes a portal to the world at large. In director Maria Speth’s sprawling, inspirational second documentary, the filmmaker presents about six months in the academic life of one of her personal friends, 64-year-old Dieter Bachmann, who teaches a primary school class for immigrant children in a mid-sized German town. On display are mild culture clashes, linguistic barriers, inquiries into religious differences, debates about values and ethics, and many, many musical performances. Among the dozen or so 12-to-14-year-old students he teaches, a mini-society has formed, with the promise of greater understanding for all in the future.

When we first meet the aforementioned Mr. Bachmann, he’s wearing an AC/DC shirt. The “School of Rock” vibes continue from there, as it’s quickly clear that he greatly values opportunities to encourage his students to perform music themselves. The long, immersive scenes
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