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Film review: German comedy

By voyage reporter Katrin Wagner

Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland is a new thought-provoking yet highly entertaining German comedy portraying three generations of Turkish immigrants and their lives in Germany. This small production, which was released in early spring 2011, has become a surprise box-office hit.

What happens in the film?

Wer oder was bin ich eigentlich – Deutscher oder Türke? ('Who or what am I actually – a German or a Turk?')

This is the difficult question that Cenk Ylmaz, a 6-year-old boy born and living in Munich, poses to himself after none of his class mates select him for their football team. The film demonstrates that the question of where we belong is particularly challenging for immigrants and their descendants. This issue is raised again when Cenk's grandfather surprises his family with the news that he has bought a house in Turkey and would like them to go there on holiday together. The family has its reservations about the idea but they soon head off to Turkey. And so a journey of memories, arguments, reconciliations and self-discovery begins. From this point, the film goes back in time and tells the story of this exemplary Turkish immigrant family from the 1960s to the present day.

Problems and issues of immigration

The film thereby introduces the audience to the particular problems and issues that this family have had to, and still have to, face. Hüseyin was the 1,000,001st Turkish guest worker to arrive in Germany in the late 1960s and brought his wife and three children to Germany a few years later. His wife, who hardly speaks any German when she arrives, struggles to even buy some eggs and ends up cackling like a chicken to make herself understood. Her children are also bewildered by aspects of German culture, particularly the religious beliefs, which promote worshipping a God whose son was nailed to a cross.

However, growing up surrounded by German culture, means that these second generation children become more and more accustomed to it and consider it more or less normal to live somewhere 'in between the two cultures'. Of course, this is still more challenging for some than for others.

The film makes it clear that the issue of a split cultural identity is most problematic for third generation immigrants. They are aware of their Turkish roots and are accustomed to Turkish family traditions at home but these young people are also growing up with German friends and immersed in the German culture and its traditions. Hence, their most challenging task is finding a balance between these different cultures as well as discovering their own personal identity.

Watch it yourselves!

This film deals with the problematic and oft-debated topic of immigration in Germany from a completely new and refreshing perspective, while distancing itself from stereotypical views, such as honour killings and terrorists. It also allows viewers to get an authentic, if sometimes exaggerated, insight into the Turkish point of view on this issue.

Did you know ...

... the screenplay of Almanya was written by the two sisters Nesrin und Yasemin Samdereli, who could put numerous authentic experiences from their own German-Turkish background into it?