Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Almanya - Welcome to Germany

'Am I German or Turkish?' This is the central question in Almanya - Welcome to Germany, an engaging and highly entertaining drama about a Turkish family who have lived in Germany since the 1960s.

When grandfather announces he has bought a summer house in Turkey, just after he and his wife have finally become German citizens, a journey starts, taking the family through their past and their two cultures. We see how the identities of grandfather and grandmother have changed so much since they first left Turkey for Germany, where once they identified totally as Turkish, they now feel just as Turkish inside but have become totally used to life in Germany and find elements of Turkey quite alien now they return. At the same time their grandson finds he isn't accepted by his school friends - he's neither properly German nor properly Turkish.

The film is beautifully structured and filmed, using a documentary approach to the historical elements of the story and with wonderful surreal touches to highlight the emotional journey of the characters. There are dream sequences including grandfather's hilarious nightmare about what German citizenship might involve.

There are wonderful details, such as the embroidered handkerchief that grandfather had given to grandmother when he had first gone to Germany, which add subtlety and depth to the story.

And viewers may well be advised to make sure they have a handkerchief at the ready too, this is a film that will make you laugh and cry.

I saw the press screening of this film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Public screenings are 17.45, 23 June and 13.00, 25 June, both in Cameo 1. You can book tickets on the EIFF website here.

As ever, red text in this post contains hyperlinks which take you to other websites where you can find out more.

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