German producer Jamila Wenske of Berlin-based Achtung Panda! Media has boarded two upcoming projects that explore facets of the immigrant experience in Germany.
Asli Özarslan’s “Elbow” follows the turbulent life of a young Turkish woman in Berlin and her decision to move to Istanbul, while Ali Kareem Obaid’s “The Arabic Interpreter” centers on a frustrated, unemployed actor who takes a job as an Arabic-German interpreter.
“Elbow,” based on the award-winning novel by Fatma Aydemir, is the story of a 17-year-old girl whose life spins out of control following a harrowing experience, which forces her to flee to Istanbul, a city she has never before visited. It also examines people living between cultures and countries who are seeking their own place in the world.
“It’s a world most Germans never see,” Wenske said.
Özarslan’s screenplay adaptation, co-written by Claudia Schaefer, was recently selected for the Torino Film Lab’s Script Lab. It’s the first feature film for Özarslan, who has directed two previous award-winning documentaries, “Island 36” and “Dil Leyla.”
“The Arabic Interpreter,” likewise a first feature film for its director, follows Hassan, an unemployed actor who becomes an interpreter for the German government during the recent refugee crisis. While assisting people fleeing war in the Middle East, Hassan comes across an individual who he thinks could be a jihadist and he begins to relive his own nightmarish experience during the war in Iraq.
For Obaid, a native Iraqi who moved to Germany at the height of the 2003 Iraq war, the story reflects personal experiences but also explores more timely issues like terrorism and its effect on a European metropolis.
The film is set in Berlin and revolves around the 2016 Christmas market attack at Breitscheidplatz and the climate of fear and anxiety that permeated German society at the time.
“The Arabic Interpreter” was among six Arab feature film projects selected last year to participate in the new Red Sea Lodge program, launched in partnership with the Red Sea Film Festival in Jedddah, Saudi Arabia. Khalid Abu Sharif’s Tabi 360 in Amman, Jordan, is co-producing.