I went to Salisbury to see this film which was showing as part of the Salisbury International Festival. The story of a boy with a Kurdish father and a Turkish mother living in Vienna brought home the pain of trying to survive in a country where the culture is so different. The theme of identity was strong. Here was a boy, Veysel, who struggled at school because of the language barrier and who tried to be the glue that kept his family together. His much older brother has rejected his father because of political activity that led to their need to seek asylum in Austria.
Veysel has to learn a poem in German to avoid repeating a school year. He knows he needs to show commitment to his new country but the language barrier is a high one for him. With the help of a neighbour, he translates the lyrics of a song from his homeland into German. The title of the film is the title of the poem he learns.
We start by seeing the fantasy Veysel carries around with him. He has a youthful crush on Ana, who is herself a refugee and who sits in class in front of him. The need for a connection is strong and we see both the reality of Veysel’s school life and how he would like it to be.
This film is the debut of Huseyin Tabak. It is a reminder, should one be needed, that refugees seek protection rather than a life of comfort in Europe. As Veysel shows us, trying to fit in is not an easy task. The performance by Abdulkadir Tuncer as Veysel is amazing. The camera spends a lot of time on his face and it is a sign of the strength of his acting that we learn so much about his internal world from the limited expressions he releases.
I hope this film gets a wide distribution. It is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?