German Film Aims To Counter Integration Gloom

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BERLIN (AP) - A German filmmaker with Turkish roots is offering a sometimes comical account of an immigrant family's experience in Germany as an antidote to gloom about insufficient integration.

Director Yasemin Samdereli's "Almanya - Welcome to Germany" made its debut Saturday at the Berlin film festival, where it is showing out of competition.

It centers on a family drama unleashed by a Turkish grandfather's decision, 45 years after arriving in Germany as a "guest worker," to buy a house in his homeland, and looks back at his experiences as a new arrival.

Germany is now home to around 3 million people of Turkish origin. Samdereli said that over the years "a very, very negative perspective" of them has often been shown.

"We wanted to tell a story as we know it from our own perspective, and that wasn't so gloomy," the German-born 37-year-old told reporters. "There are examples of people who have developed, who know that their children ... will choose different paths."

In recent months, concerns over what many view as a failure to integrate immigrants and their descendants in society have taken center-stage in Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said last year that the "multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and live happily with each other, has failed."

Vedat Erincin, who plays the film's Turkish "guest worker," countered that "Germany changed these people a lot." Erincin, born in Turkey in 1957, arrived in Germany in his early 20s.

"The first generation who came here of course made mistakes, a lot of mistakes, but we human beings do make mistakes - just like our chancellor," he said.

"This (film) shows that multiculturalism has not failed," he said.

However, Lilay Huser, who plays his wife and herself has been in Germany for 33 years, noted that Turks living in Germany are viewed as foreigners both in their adopted land and their native country.

"We fall between two stools," she said.

Producer Andreas Richter said that both German- and Turkish-language versions of the film will be shown in Germany when it hits movie theaters on March 10.

The filmmakers thought that the original first-generation immigrants "will prefer to see this movie in Turkish," he said.
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