×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Almanya: Welcome to Germany

A breezy, colorfully styled comedy suitable for family viewing.

With:
With: Vedat Erincin, Fahri Yardim, Aylin Tezel, Lilay Huser, Demet Gul, Denis Moschitto, Rafael Koussouris, Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Axel Miberg, Walter Sittler, Katharina Thalbach, Trystan Putter, Aykut Kayacik, Ercan Karacayli, Siir Eloglu. (German, Turkish dialogue)

A breezy, colorfully styled comedy suitable for family viewing, “Almanya” centers on multiple generations of a German-Turkish clan and marks the feature debut of German helmer Yasemin Samdereli, who, along with younger sister/co-scribe Nesrin, wrote episodes of the popular Teuton soap “Turkish for Beginners.” Deriving its broad humor from cultural misunderstandings and the question of what constitutes national identity, pic boasts artful moments but no pretensions to high art, hence its out-of-competition Berlinale placement. Opening in Deutschland theaters in March, it should also score in Turkey, as well as other European countries with Turkish expats.

The narrative is neatly structured into two interwoven time frames that come together in a poignant visual toward the pic’s end. Both strands feature action in Turkey and Germany.

The first, set in the present, introduces the Yilmazes in their German home, as patriarch Huseyin (Vedat Erincin) insists that his family — his wife (Lilay Huser); their adult children Veli (Aykut Kayacik), Muhamed (Ercan Karacayli), Leyla (Siir Eloglu) and Ali (Denis Moschitto); and their grandchildren, 22-year-old Canan (Aylin Tezel) and 6-year-old Cenk (Rafael Koussouris) — accompany him for a holiday in Turkey. Meanwhile, Cenk, the son of Ali and beautiful blonde German Gabi (Petra Schmidt-Schaller), is suddenly faced at school with the question: Am I German or Turkish?

Popular on Variety

The second strand follows young Huseyin (Fahri Yardim) in distant Anatolia, his arrival in 1964 Germany as the 1,000,001st Gastarbeiter (guest worker), and his family’s gradual acclimatization — if not assimilation — as visualized in Cenk’s vivid imagination.

Later, the clan’s trip to Anatolia brings the plot (and the cycle of life) full circle. It also serves as an opportunity for Huseyin to dispense folksy wisdom about the importance of family bonds, and of loving and respecting one another.

While the humor may be hit-or-miss (some bits, such as Huseyin’s dream about the bureaucracy at the German citizenship office — and the requirement of eating pork — are laugh-out-loud funny), all of it is gentle, poking fun at national cliches rather than personal characteristics. Directing with a broad, sitcom-style vigor, Samdereli keeps the pace moving briskly enough that if one joke fails to tickle a viewer’s funny bone, the film is soon on to the next.

On a more serious note, the pic’s standout aspect is the way it encompasses the history of guest workers in Germany, particularly the incorporation of well-chosen black-and-white archive footage under the beginning and end credits. Indeed, the workers’ experience may be pithily summed up by a speech made on Huseyin’s behalf during “Germany Says Thank You” Day at the German Ministry: “It was sometimes bad, sometimes good, but now I am happy.”

Thesping is geared toward a bright, cheerful tenor that works within the pic’s parameters, while the well-crafted tech package has a genuine theatrical feel.

Almanya: Welcome to Germany

Germany

Production: A Concorde Film release of a Roxy Film production in co-production with Infafilm, Concorde Filmverleih, with the support of FFF Bayern, FFA, DFFF, Der Beaugtragte der Bundesrierung fur Kultur und Medien. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Munich.) Produced by Andreas Richter, Ursula Woerner, Annie Brunner. Directed by Yasemin Samdereli. Screenplay, Nesrin Samdereli, Yasemi Samdereli.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, widescreen), Ngo The Chau; editor, Andrea Mertens; music, Gerd Baumann; production designer, Alexander Manasse; costume designer, Steffi Bruhn; sound (Dolby Digital), Christian Gotz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (noncompeting), Feb. 12, 2011. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: With: Vedat Erincin, Fahri Yardim, Aylin Tezel, Lilay Huser, Demet Gul, Denis Moschitto, Rafael Koussouris, Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Axel Miberg, Walter Sittler, Katharina Thalbach, Trystan Putter, Aykut Kayacik, Ercan Karacayli, Siir Eloglu. (German, Turkish dialogue)

More Film

  • Lee Byung-hun stars in "The Man

    Lee Byung-hun’s ‘Man Standing Next’ Secures 2020 Asia Theatrical Releases (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showbox’s political drama “The Man Standing Next” has secured releases in multiple territories in Asia. The film was picked up by Falcon for Indonesia, The Klockworx for Japan, Viva Communications for the Philippines, Shaw Renters for Singapore and by Moviecloud for Taiwan. Release dates in each territory have yet to be confirmed. Set 40 days [...]

  • Lulu Wang and Zhao Shuzhen'The Farewell'

    Zhao Shuzhen on Stealing Scenes in Her First American Movie, 'The Farewell'

    A year ago, 76-year-old actor Zhao Shuzhen shot her first American movie, “The Farewell,” based on writer-director Lulu Wang’s very personal family story. In November, Shuzhen found herself making her first visit to the States, where she earned standing ovations from audiences and posed for pictures with stars like Robert Pattinson at parties. Then she [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Director Lorene Scafaria

    'Hustlers' DP Todd Banhazl Discusses How Not to Shoot With the Male Gaze

    Cinematographer Todd Banhazl had to rethink conventional wisdom in shooting Jennifer Lopez starrer “Hustlers.” What sort of approach did you and director Lorene Scafaria discuss in terms of how you were going to shoot the women and create these strong images of strippers? From the beginning, we talked about this idea of control and the [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie

    Film News Roundup: Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life' Screened at Vatican Film Library

    In today’s film news roundup, “A Hidden Life” is shown at the Vatican, “Limerence” finds a home, Dave Baustista’s “My Spy” moves, and the DGA honors two veteran members. VATICAN SCREENING Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” received a rare private screening at the Vatican Film Library this week. The movie centers on Austrian farmer and [...]

  • Wet Season

    'Wet Season' Star Yeo Yann Yann on the Need for Quality Chinese-Language Films

    Malaysia’s Yeo Yann Yann wiped away tears that weren’t purely of joyous triumph just minutes after receiving the 2019 Golden Horse Award for best actress in Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s “Wet Season.” The film plays in the New Chinese Cinema section of this week’s International Film Festival & Awards (IFFAM). Emotion welled up as she [...]

  • Wolf Totem

    Juben Productions Stretches From Peter Chan to Chinese Zombies

    Beijing Juben Productions has taken over rights to the popular “Wolf Totem” novel from China Film Group and is working on a sequel to be delivered in 2021 or Chinese New Year 2022. It also has a zombie film up its sleeve, as well as a British co-production about Shakespeare and a Chinese drama with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content