German heaven comes to Mumbai

Back after a long summer break with their August programme, Max Mueller Bhavan (MMB) Mumbai now has a newly-renovated Galerie Max Mueller building.

In the first half of this year, the institute was busy with several mega-events, such as the Indo-German Urban Mela at Cross Maidan and the concert tour Classic Incantations with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg playing music compositions by AR Rahman. “We are now happy to return after the summer break and open our August programme with an entertaining series of great contemporary German movies. Most of these films are modern classics, some of which have been screened before in India. Watching these films again means discovering new elements each time.

Director Fatih Akin won an award for the best international film for Edge of Heaven in 2007

This August, MMB will screen two German films —Edge of Heaven by Fatih Akin and Sonnennalle (1999) by Leander Haußmann — with English subtitles on August 16 and 17.

While the background score can be endearing in some movies, it can be emotionally moving in others. In Edge of Heaven, the background score sets the pace for the scenes, drives home a point better and dispenses with the language barrier while guiding the viewer through the story, as we discovered when we streamed it via YouTube.

The film, set in Germany and Turkey, features six protagonists, whose destinies are entwined. Sixty five year-old Ali Aksu — who lives with his son Nejak in Bremen — makes a deal with a Turkish prostitute called Yeter/ Jessy to move in with him. Ali accidentally kills Yeter and Nejak sets out to Turkey to find her missing daughter Ayten ‘Gül’ Öztürk (the role is excellently essayed by Nurgül Yesilçay), who has become a political activist and is fighting globalisation in Turkey.

Meanwhile Ayten flees from the Turkish police and comes to Germany, where she meets Charlotte. The drama moves between Turkey and Germany, the movie is gripping and crisp, and the dialogues are as few as required. When Ayten meets Charlotte for the first time on the university campus, where Ayten has sneaked in because the ‘food is cheap’, the conversation is almost comic.

Charlotte cross-questions Ayten about her course at the university and her surprise at Ayten’s reason for frequenting the campus is expressed through her doe-eyes. “And where do you sleep?” her questions continue, only to end with Charlotte taking Ayten home with her.

Soon, Ayten is deported to Turkey where she is kept in a prison waiting for her sentence. Charlotte hunts her down in Turkey, determined to save her. So much said; we’ll leave the end for you to watch.

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