Mittwoch, 13. Juli 2011

Berlin Movies: Fremder Freund/Stranger Friend

This is not a movie about Berlin, but it's using the city as a pretext and framework. However, as a Berliner, I was able to identify many aspects and details that are specific to certain daily habits of the city.
Chris found Yunes, a student from Yemen (played by the Iranian-German actor Navid Akhavan) through an ad from a Turkish grocery shop. They move together - as many people do easily in Berlin, without knowing too much each other - share their lives and free time. Yunes is helped to get in touch with a girl he thought it's the woman of his life - but obviously she's belonging to a different cultural and social background, they party together and learn from each other's customs. 
At the beginning Yunes is a non-observant Muslim, shy and childish somehow in his enthusiasm about people and relationships. After the break-up with the girl friend, he's becoming more and more observant, is attending various discussion groups about Islam, it's growing a beard and start praying. 
Although from the point of view of the behavior, those changes were new, from the point of view of the discourse, we don't have too many reasons to be surprised. Once, during a going-out to the sea with Chris, its girlfriend and his girlfriend, Yunes's passionately involved in explaining the "situation in Gaza" through the anti-Semitic stereotypes. From this point on, later on, his various negative affirmations about non-Muslims could be a natural development of reasoning. 
The movie starts in March 2000 and end up shortly after September 11. More than one year of full time in the life of youngsters in Berlin. The movie is operating through various flash-backs and reinsertion of time sequences helping you to understand various events from Yunes's life. A couple of months before September 11 he disappear without any trace, the parents don't know, the former girlfriend doesn't. When Chris goes to search after his acquaintances - and you have also an image of the old mosque in Wilmersdorf, out of service for a long time - all the roads are leading to his death. Yunes, who loved to dance turned into a "fedayyin" for other people's causes.
If you ask me, I would suggest to discuss this movie to a discussion group about Islam, it would be a better subject touching upon integration and cultural tolerance, better than any other theoretical and theological approach. It's about life - and death - of the soul. 
I found the movie extremely relevant for the daily life in Berlin and for the challenges many youngsters of Muslim background are facing here, not always with a successful happy end.
PS. The music, by Matthias Beine is wonderful.

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