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February 20 - 25, 2004

Young Turks of the German Cinema

This unusual series includes a generous sampling of bitter, fresh, zany, and touching films from a “new wave” of contemporary Turkish-German directors. These young men and women question their identities and their sense of belonging as they move between Germany and Turkey, challenging the culture of their parents, creating road movies of alienation, and dealing with sexual discovery. Over the last thirty years, the Turkish diaspora has grown to more than two and a half million people in Germany. It is a community that has established a dynamic ethnic and urban presence and formed a curious and exciting blend of cultural identities. Showcasing their assimilation in a flurry of documentaries, shorts, and feature films, this new generation of Turkish-Germans has migrated once again: this time within the artistic landscape, using new visual tools to shape their identities as part of a new culture and new generation.

This program is co-presented with the Goethe Institut Boston.


February 20 (Friday) 7 pm
February 24 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Weed (Getürkt)

Directed by Fatih Akin
Germany, 1996, color, 12 min.
With Fatih Akin, Mehmet Kurtulus, Cem Akin
German with English subtitles

The second short film of award-winning feature director Fatih Akin, Weed tells the story of a German immigrant who spends the summer holidays with his mother at the sea coast. Luring a recent acquaintance to the abode with the promise of dope, what he actually offers are literal weeds from his mother’s garden—a substitute that proves surprisingly effective. Amusing vignettes combine with drama in this small film that eschews heroes and villains to look simply at life’s survivors.

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February 20 (Friday) 7 pm
February 24 (Tuesday) 9 pm

We Forgot to Go Back (Wir haben vergessen, zurückzukehren)

Directed by Fatih Akin
Germany, 2000, color, 59 min.
With Fatih Akin, Mustafa Enver Akin, Cem Akin
German with English subtitles

This affectionate and insightful documentary is a cinematic family album that records the director’s relatives in Hamburg and Turkey in order to explore notions of homeland, the desire to belong, and the ability to move between two cultures. Akin’s father is a Turkish immigrant who established a successful new life as a secular and liberal citizen in his new German homeland and who has never managed to go back “home.” The son, born in Germany and unfettered by his father’s ambivalence, makes a trip back to the town of his father’s birth, finding that answers to the question of identity and homeland are decidedly nuanced and fluid.

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February 20 (Friday) 9 pm
February 22 (Sunday) 9 pm

Lola and Billy the Kid (Lola und Bilidikid)

Directed by Kutlug Ataman
Germany, 1998, color, 93 min.
With Baki Davrak, Erdal Yildiz, Gandi Mukli
German and Turkish with English subtitles

Kutlug Ataman’s highly charged thriller takes us into the shadowy world of Berlin’s gay Turkish émigrés, who live lives of constant double jeopardy due to the extreme homophobia within their own ethnic culture and the xenophobia of German society at large. This compelling film is at once a tale of family tragedy and a rare look at Berlin’s notable Turkish immigrant transvestite community. Ataman began his filmmaking career in Turkey but left after being detained and tortured for shooting Super-8mm footage of political events leading up to the 1980 coup.

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February 21 (Saturday) 7 pm
February 23 (Monday) 9 pm

Tour Abroad (Die Auslandstournee)

Directed by Ayse Polat
Germany, 1998, color, 91 min.
With Özlem Blume, Siir Eloglu, Özay Fecht
German with English subtitles

 

Senay (Blume) is an ornery eleven-year-old girl whose father has just died. Zeki is a gay Turkish cabaret singer who responds to her plight. Together, this odd couple travels through Europe in search of the orphan-girl’s family. Tour Abroad is a tender story of friendship in an unfriendly world, where lonely people must support each other in cruel and corrupt surroundings. A mix of humor, glitz, and sensitivity, the film follows the couple as Zeki rediscovers some of his own lost humanity and Senay comes to realize, after finding her mother, that her real identity must reside in herself and not in her parentage.

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February 21 (Saturday) 9 pm
February 25 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Sevda Means Love (Sevda heißt Liebe)

Directed by Sinan Akkus
Germany, 2000, color, 14 min.
With Anja Nejarri, Orhan Kümürcü, Fatih Çevikkollu
German with English subtitles

Traditional Turkish moral codes meet contemporary cultural norms and youthful desire in this O. Henry–like tale of love and machismo. Adran and Sevda must keep their relationship secret from Sevda’s furiously protective older brother. The tables, however, are turned when Adran learns the brother has been secretly seeing his own sister.

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February 21 (Saturday) 9 pm
February 25 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Dealer

Directed by Thomas Arslan
Germany, 1998, color, 80 min.
With Hussi Kutlucan, Birol Önel, Idil Üner
German and Turkish with English subtitles

Can and his girlfriend, Jale, live with their young daughter in a tough Turkish neighborhood of Berlin and barely manage to scrape enough money together for their existence. Can is a small-time dealer and errand-boy for drug boss Hakan. Jale works in the warehouse of a department store and has been pressing him to give up his life of petty crime. The two see a bright new beginning when Hakan offers Can the chance to run a bar, but it seems impossible to escape the confines of aggression and mistrust in this compressed urban microcosm. Director Arslan creates a static and claustrophobic Berlin of run-down industrial courtyards and dark hallways to portray a state of mind mirrored in its social milieu.

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February 22 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Lovers of Hotel Osman

Directed by Idil Üner
Germany, 2001, color, 14 min.
With Idil Üner, Fatih Akin
German with English subtitles

Playing the game of cultural identity is the theme of this short film, which follows a pair of young lovers from Berlin to Istanbul. Booked in a Turkish hotel that has strict codes regarding cohabitation, the quarreling couple attract the attention of the authorities. They manage to turn their lover’s spat into a classic Turkish husband-wife fracas, thus eluding detection and convincing everyone they must truly be married.

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February 22 (Sunday) 7 pm

German Cops (Deutsche Polizisten)

Directed by Aysun Bademsoy
Germany, 1999, color, 60 min.
German with English subtitles

In this fascinating documentary, director Aysun Bademsoy observes “foreign” policemen in the city of Berlin—men of Yugoslavian and Turkish background who have come to terms with their own cultural, social, and sometimes moral conflicts but still must face being seen as “traitors” to their own people and to the established values of their cultures. Bademsoy successfully balances the nuances of conflict that erupt as these men move between highly incompatible cultures, trapped in a dilemma to which no simple resolution can be found.

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