12. Families in motion: Migration with a touch of magic
Professor Daniela Berghahn, Royal Holloway, University of London
This paper was presented prior to a public film screening of Almanya – Welcome to Germany (dir. Yasemin Samdereli, 2011) at the Ciné Lumière in London on 18 January 2012. The presentation, screening and Q&A session with the filmmakers Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli were part of a series of events which Daniela Berghahn organised in the context of the HARC Fellowship Welcoming Strangers she has been awarded during the academic year 2011-12.
Abstract: Almanya – Welcome to Germany reconfigures earlier cinematic accounts of Turkish German migration and diaspora. It is the first cinematic representation of a Turkish German family spanning three generations. Whereas earlier diasporic family films, including Solino or The April Children focus on the first and second generations, Almanya, as well as the Maghrebi French Couscous, portray a three-generational extended family, comfortably settled in the 'host country' and with no desire to return to their 'homeland' for good. In contrast to other films in which the Turkish migrants are ‘othered’ on account of their different cultural values, language and religion, in Almanya, the Germans are ‘the other’. The film’s innovative aesthetics is achieved by a clever juxtaposition of archival footage, which conveys a sense of documentary realism and, by implication, historical authenticity, and magical realist sequences whose visual exuberance is in keeping with the vivid imagination the little boy Cenk, from whose point of view the story is told. In his flights of fancy the mundane and the difficult aspects of the migrant experience are commingled with the improbable and fantastic.
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