Thursday, February 24, 2011

"When We Leave": German-Turkish film shows existential conflict over "family honor"

Family honor is a big concept in many cultures around the world, including Islamist. Without commanding it (if you are a man) and continuing your legacy of people, you are nothing, in their line of thinking. Such is a theme of the co German and Turkish production “When We Leave” (“Die Fremde”), from director Feo Aladag.

A young woman Umay (Sibel Kilekki) flees a bad marriage in Istanbul with her little son Cem (Nizam Schiller) to Berlin, but the family patriarch, with high blood pressure (which he can manipulate) doesn’t like the strain her disloyalty puts on the family. He decides to send the son to the father back in Turkey, so Umay tries to move out to keep the boy. A tragedy, which you don’t really see coming, is inevitable.
The film is in Cinemascope, which seems like overdoing it, diluting the effect of the family closeups in the indoor scenes, filled with constant conflict (including two bizarre disco scenes). But the few outdoor scenes in Turkey are really spectacular.  There is a shot of the Berlin train station in the center of town that almost duplicates the same shot in “Unknown”. 

I saw this at the early Thursday evening show at Landmark E Street in  downtown Washington (before a moderate crowd), and as this was the last day, the film accidentally started a few minutes early.

The film is from ARTE and Independent Artists in Germany, and Olive Films for distribution.

The site for the film is here

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