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Welcoming Strangers: insights into immigration on film

Posted on 16/01/2012
Almanya: Welcome To Germany

Sibling film-making duo Yasemin Samdereli and sister Nesrin will be at a special screening of their film Almanya: Welcome To Germany, to discuss their humorous and yet sensitive take on immigration and integration of Turkish workers living in Germany.

Released as the 50th anniversary passes of the treaty that saw hundreds of thousands of Turkish “guest workers” move to Germany, Almanya: Welcome To Germany offers a heart-warming tale of the one-millionth ‘guest worker’ to enter the country.

The Samdereli sisters will share their experiences of life as Turkish-Germans and what drove them to ask the question “Am I German or Turkish” through the narrative of the film during the UK premiere at the Ciné Lumiére, in London, on Wednesday 18 January.

In their film, the question is asked through six-year-old Cenk Yilmaz, who is upset when neither his Turkish nor his German schoolmates select him for their football teams. His 22-year-old secretly-pregnant cousin Canan steps in to comfort Cenk with the story of how their grandfather Hüseyin came to Germany at the end of the sixties as the one-million-and-one guest worker who later brought his wife and children to live with him in Almanya.

Writer-director Yasemin and co-script writer Nesrin will share how their own family solidarity came into play in their battle to make their film and that it was thanks to their Turkish-German family values that they were able to bring their film to the big screen.  

Almanya: Welcome To Germany premiered at the International Film Festival in Berlin in 2011 and went on to win numerous awards, including the prestigious German Film Prize for best screenplay.

The event is organised by Professor Daniela Berghahn, from the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London, as part of her research into migrant and diasporic cinema in contemporary Europe. It forms part of the Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) series of events.

Professor Berghahn said: “I am very excited about presenting Almanya – Welcome to Germany in London. Not unlike the British-Asian box-office hits East is East and Bend It Like Beckham, which are also comedies about immigrant families, Almanya – Welcome to Germany invites audiences all over the world to recognize that families, whether they were born and bred in Britain or Germany or come from South Asia or Turkey, have a great deal in common.

She added: “The experience of family life is one that unites humanity and that, therefore, has the capacity to build bridges across cultures and to help us reassess racial, religious and other stereotypes. I’m confident that the audience at the Ciné Lumière will absolutely love the film.”

 The Welcoming Strangers event featuring a screening Almanya: Welcome To Germany will be held at Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensberry Place, London, at 6.30pm.

For more information about the event, visit the Ciné Lumière website.  


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