Feel-good German film says multiculturalism not dead

Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:45pm EST
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - "Almanya," a rare feel-good movie about Turkish immigrants in Germany which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival Saturday, defies recent political declarations that multiculturalism has failed in Europe.

Coming amid an anguished public debate about the place of foreigners in Germany, the debut movie by two Turkish-German sisters delighted filmgoers with its comic and optimistic depiction of immigrants' efforts to integrate in an alien society.

"After so many dark films we wanted to show a perspective that we felt a lot closer to, that was not so extreme and negative," said Nesrin Samdereli, who wrote the screenplay, at a news conference in Berlin.

"Encounters between Germans and Turks are often quite comic, and that is what we wanted to portray."

Turkish-German films such as Fatih Akin's "Head On" -- the first German film in 18 years to win the top prize at the Berlin festival -- have won much critical acclaim in recent years, yet have mostly focused on social troubles in immigrant communities.

"Almanya" humorously narrates the story of a family of Turkish origin that moved to Germany to find better-paid work in the 1960s and now bridges two cultures.

Turning the classic perspective of immigrants as the Others on its head, "Almanya" shows how shocked the family is to arrive in a country populated by blond giants who devour pigs, worship a suffering figure on a cross and speak "gibberish."

Director Yasemin Samdereli says she created a fantasy language as a stylistic means "to give German viewers the same feeling of oddness and confusion caused by a new language."   Continued...