The Top 10 German-Turkish Films


Over the years, German-Turkish cinema has flourished in Germany. renk. compiled a short list of ten remarkable German-Turkish films by various directors from the past 30 years that are worth seeing. Everything from comedy to drama, from entertainment to cultural criticism.

Aus der Ferne
(From Far Away), directed by Thomas Arslan, 2006


Thomas Arslan takes a personal look at Turkey. »Aus der Ferne« documents a trip Arslan made in 2005 from Istanbul to Ankara and Gaziantep and then, further east, to Doğubayazıt, on the Iranian border. Arslan shows us a real glimpse of Turkey, instead of the usual holiday brochure pictures.

Gegen die Wand
(Head-On), directed by Fatih Akın, 2004


Tomruk Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a German-Turk somewhere between forty and fifty years old. After the death of his beloved wife, he succumbs to drugs. His excessive lifestyle eventually leads him to drive against a wall. Recovering in hospital, he meets Sibel, (Sibel Kekilli), a much younger German-Turkish woman. Sibel persuades Cahit to marry her in order to escape from the ultra-orthodox constraints of her family. This sham marriage is the beginning of a complex love story.

Die Fremde
(When We Leave), directed by Feo Aladağ, 2010


Umay (Sibel Kekilli), a young mother from Istanbul, flees from Turkey with her little boy (Nizam Schiller) to get away from her abusive husband. The apparent safety provided by her family in Germany proves to be deceptive. The family members are bound by traditional values. Umay has offended the family’s honour and she underestimates the threat that her relatives pose to her. Can she master the conflict brought about by her love for her family and her desire to live independently?

(Three Quarter Moon), directed by Christian Zübert, 2011


Hayat is a six-year old Turkish girl (Mercan Türkoğlu) on a visit from Turkey, who thoroughly disrupts the life of grumpy taxi driver Hartmut (Wepper Elmar). Although they can’t understand each other at all, Hayat manages to turn the taxi driver`s limited world upside down. In this film, Christian Zübert explores forms of communication that can break down language barriers and overcome misunderstandings.

Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland (Almanya – Welcome to Germany), directed by Yasemin Şamdereli, 2011


An extended family’s journey back to their roots in Turkey. Cenk Yilmaz’s (Rafael Koussouris) grandfather (Vedat Erincin) wants to take the whole family on a trip to the family’s newly purchased summer home in Turkey. The trip turns out to be every bit as turbulent as you would expect. This entertaining film skillfully plays with clichés, without succumbing to them.

Auf der anderen Seite
(The Edge of Heaven), directed by Fatih Akin, 2007


Six people. Turks and Germans. From Turkey and Germany. Searching for forgiveness. Fatih Akin compares different life stories in Germany and Turkey. They all have one thing in common: each character will eventually cross a national border for some reason or other. Fatih Akin takes a look at individual quests for forgiveness and absolution in this intense and tightly-knit film, and points at underlying differences that aren’t just geographical.

Der schöne Tag
(A Fine Day), directed by Thomas Arslan, 2001


A day in the life of a young girl in Berlin. Deniz (Serpil Turhan), a 21-year-old dubbing artist, has an eventful summer day in Berlin. She dreams of being an actress and finding the right man. »Der schöne Tag« follows Deniz all through an exciting summer day full of hopes and desires. She makes new friends and all sorts of things happen, but the next day her life hasn’t really changed, despite everything.

40qm Deutschland
(40 sq m of Germany), directed by Tevfik Başer, 1985


Dursun (Yaman Okay) is a Turkish migrant worker living in Hamburg. Despite working in Germany, he remains deeply rooted in the traditions of his homeland. When his wife Turna (Özay Fecht) joins him in Germany, he wants to shield her from bad German influences. While the 40-sqm apartment in Hamburg becomes a retreat for Dursun, it turns into a cage for Turna. Her life is restricted in a way that perhaps not even Dursun’s most traditional ancestors could have imagined.

Lola und Bilidikid
(Lola and Billy the Kid), directed by Kutluğ Ataman, 1999


17-year-old Murat (Baki Davrak) is Turkish and lives in Berlin. The film shows the perils of coming-out in a world defined by his foreign background and the Berlin gay and transgender scene. He soon learns that he is not alone in his quest for a self-determined, free life.

Kebab Connection, directed by Anno Saul, 2005


İbrahim (Dennis Moschitto) is a young Turk who wants to make the first German kung fu movie. Can he do it? And can he handle love, fatherhood and family life at the same time? All will be revealed during the course of this film. Full of slapstick humor without too many culture-clash clichés, Anno Saul’s tongue-in-cheek comedy develops its own unique charm.

Text & Illustration: Büke Schwarz

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