The Berlin film festival turned the spotlight Monday on the rise of neo-Nazis, amid the turmoil after the fall of the Wall, with the drama "As We Were Dreaming".
The film, one of two German competition contenders looking at lost youth, is set in Saxony, the same east German region where the emergence of an anti-immigrant movement known as PEGIDA recently made international headlines.
Based on a bestselling novel by Clemens Meyer and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Andreas Dresen, it traces the lives of a group of schoolboys in Leipzig from the dying days of the communist regime until their early adulthood in the heady years after national reunification in 1990.
With factories closing and jobs in short supply, they dream of opening a techno club in one of the countless abandoned industrial spaces that became legendary around the world in the post-Berlin Wall years.
But they quickly run up against a brutal gang of far-right skinheads who aim to take over the booming drug trade that has taken hold in the city's underground clubs.
A battle on the city's streets ensues, with the friends trying to enlist the help of "anti-fascist" punks, mirroring a conflict that still plays out in the cities and towns of the ex-communist east.
Dresen, who grew up in East Germany, shared top honours at the Cannes film festival's Un Certain Regard section in 2011 for his wrenching drama about terminal illness, "Stopped On Track".
He said he was drawn to "As We Were Dreaming" for its incisive depiction of budding adulthood, as well as its unique take on a "wild, anarchic, chaotic" time in Germany when anything seemed possible.
"When I read the novel, I thought it was a universal story -- growing up, saying goodbye to childhood, the time when you can crash or conquer the world, crossing boundaries -- that is the privilege of youth," Dresen, 51, told reporters after a press preview.
"But I also thought there hadn't been much written about this generation that fell between two systems, in this world that suddenly grew so much bigger, and their looking for their place in it."
- Movie in a single take -
The second German film in competition at the 11-day festival, "Victoria", generated strong buzz after its premiere.
underworld kingpin, who uses Victoria to blackmail them into carrying out a bank heist for him that goes disastrously wrong.
"Of course it's no coincidence that Victoria is from Spain and the film is here in Berlin," Schipper, 46, told reporters.
"This is a hard world for young people in Europe. This is a story about them sticking together and trying to live in dignity with a decent life, even if it's by breaking the rules."
As for the technical challenge of making a film in one go, Schipper said it had taken the cast and crew three tries before they had a finished film in the can.
"We had this huge amount of self-confidence and we thought we'd be able to do this," he quipped. "When I realised we were heading toward the abyss, we just carried on."
"As We Were Dreaming" and "Victoria" are among the 19 pictures competing for the Golden Bear top prize at the 65th Berlin film festival, which will be awarded on Saturday.