Taking place across the sprawling metropolitan, Berlin Bouncer follows the lives of three of Berlin’s most famous bouncers — Sven Marquardt, Frank Künster, and Smiley Baldwin. Director David Dietl tries to capture the history of what Berlin was, what it has become, and where it is expected to go.

As an outsider, the idea of exploring Berlin’s rich culture was equal parts exciting and potentially informative. From the time before the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the growth of the vibrant club scene, Dietl uses the life stories of the three bouncers to highlight and explore Berlins historic past and present with varying success.

What this documentary suffers from is a case of biting off more than it can chew. While the setting of Berlin nightlife seems interesting enough, and it is, it’s lost in the shuffle of the artistic lives of each bouncer, the history of the Berlin Wall, and the choppy storytelling. I can see the story Dietl wanted to tell but ultimately it came across as a documentary about three famous bouncers, their hobbies, and a sprinkle of Berlin Wall history that tries to tie the stories together. To be completely honest, I much rather would have preferred to watch a documentary about Sven Marquardt as his story connected the most with the history of Berlin, the growing club scene, and the lives bouncers live when they are not manning the door. His story was the most engaging and put together of the three but it was fractured by the stories of Künster and Baldwin leaving it feeling incomplete and random.

Berlin Bouncer was an enjoyable watch, but not an informative one. Fractured storytelling and underdeveloped ideas ultimately let this documentary down and kept Dietl from educating an unfamiliar audience with the rich history of Berlin and how a generation rose from the rubble the Berlin Wall left behind.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

German Film Festival will screen BERLIN BOUNCER from June 13 – June 19. Tickets and more information are available HERE

German Film Festival 2021 Review – Berlin Bouncer

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), June 2, 2021. Rating: 18+. Running time: 87 min.

PRODUCTION: A Flare Film production. Producers: Katharina Bergfeld, Martin Heisler.

CREW: Director/Writer: David Dietl. Cinematography: Raphael Beinder, Eric Ferranti. Editing: Laura Heine, Stefan Oliveira-Pita.

CAST: Sven Marquardt, Frank Künster, and Smiley Baldwin.

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