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Winter Flowers

Inspired by true events, Turkish-born, German-based filmmaker Kadir Sozen's sophomore pic is a wrenching and quite suspenseful tale of a Turkish man who, expelled from Germany, desperately tries to return to his wife and son. Though the story is familiar, Sozen's emotional involvement with his characters makes for an absorbing drama. Tube programmers looking for this kind of fare should be impressed. In the dramatic opening scene, Mehmet, who has lived in Germany for 17 years, is in bed with his wife when police break into their apartment. He's to be expelled because, as an unemployed alien, he could apply for welfare. His wife, who has a job in a sausage factory, can stay.

With:
Mehmet Umut ..... Menderes Samancilar Gulistan Umut ..... Meral Yuzgulec Muslum ..... Gandi Mukli Leader ..... Cengiz Sezici Yuksel ..... Ugur Cavusoglu Grandmother ..... Ani Ipekkaya Ahmet ..... Ali Tutal Enkel ..... Alptug Atasoy

Back in Istanbul, the lonely and frustrated Mehmet works by day as a building laborer and by night in a smart restaurant where he’s in charge of the cloakroom.

Determined to return to his family, he makes a formal application at the German Consulate, but is denied; meanwhile, his wife pleads his case through the German courts. But when all legal avenues appear to lead nowhere, Mehmet decides to try the illegal route.

He contacts a shady character, manager of a sex club, who offers him passage to Germany for 5,000 marks, far more money than Mehmet can raise. But a chance occurs when, on the spur of the moment, he steals the wallet of a loud and wealthy customer at the restaurant.

The long trip by minibus begins, with several other illegal immigrants along for the ride. But the bus driver abandons the unfortunate Turks for several days at a small hotel on the outskirts of Budapest and, when he returns, demands more money to take them the rest of the way.

Ironically, Mehmet discovers that the German court has granted him permission to return — but the application must be lodged back in Istanbul. Lacking the funds to retrace his steps, he resolves to continue his illegal journey.

This territory has been covered before, notably in the Swiss-produced Oscar winner “Journey to Hope,” but Sozen’s confident handling of the material gives it a new lease on life. Franz Rath’s location photography on a variety of Turkish, German and Hungarian locations is first-class, and Menderes Samancilar is effective as the dogged, rather naive, protagonist.

Winter Flowers

German

Production: A Filmfabrik production, in association with WDR. Produced, directed, written by Kadir Sozen.

Crew: Camera (color), Franz Rath; editor, Mevlut Kocak; music, Orhan Temur; production design, Peterjurgen Heppa, Deniz Ozen; sound, Christian Gotz, Franz Perey; assistant director, Funda Guven. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (New German Film), Feb. 20, 1997. Running time: 103 MIN. (Turkish, German and Hungarian dialogue)

With: Mehmet Umut ..... Menderes Samancilar Gulistan Umut ..... Meral Yuzgulec Muslum ..... Gandi Mukli Leader ..... Cengiz Sezici Yuksel ..... Ugur Cavusoglu Grandmother ..... Ani Ipekkaya Ahmet ..... Ali Tutal Enkel ..... Alptug Atasoy

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