Almanya, welcome to Germany (Yasmin Sandereli, 2012) tells the story o the 1,000,001 “gastarbeiter” (guest worker) Hüseyin Yilmaz, the patriarch of a Turkish family who decided, in 1965, to go to Germany in order to work and achieve a better future for him and his family. Forty years later, they resolve to come back to their roots. It is a choir film about immigration, identity and integration with touches of humor that is told according to the point of view of the youngest of the family, Cenk.
Two anecdotes are used to introduce the story of Hüseyin and his family. One of them is about Hüseyin and his arrival in Germany. And the other is about Cenk: one day when he is at school, the teacher is trying to locate in a map the different origins of each child and the map is not big enough to show the Turkish region of Cenk family. It makes Cenk think about his origin. Cenk’s doubts and Hüseyin wishes of returning to Turkey connect with the secret of Canan, Hÿseyin’s oldest granddaughter, that is pregnant. The trip to Turkey becomes the perfect excuse to tell Cenk the family story and also to relive the fears and dreams the grandparents had when they first travelled to Germany.
Apart from the issue of immigration, the film shows the prejudices and fears we have when we confront the unknown, in this case living in another country with other religion and habits. The main characters (Hüseyin and Fatma’s couple -performed by different actors depending on the age they were-), Cenk and Canan, are magnificently performed by Turkish actors whose performances make the story realistic. The lack of visual tricks helps you focus and enjoy the jokes and Turkish landscapes that appear on the screen.
All in all, a superb film with great touches of tenderness. It is suitable for Eastern Europe film lovers and for those who want to discover another kind of cinema far from the American one. I highly recommend it!