‘Almanya: Willkommen in Deutschland’


This warm family dramedy looks at the story of one Turkish family that emigrated to Germany as guest workers in the 1960s. Patriarch Huseyin (Vedat Erincin) is at a ripe old age, and he announces that he’s bought a house back in his hometown in Anatolia and expects his three sons, his daughter and their grandchildren to accompany him on a summer holiday there. The film is told half in flashback — as granddaughter Canan (Aylin Tezel) recalls how Huseyin left for Germany in the ’60s — and half in the present day, as the family road trip commences in a big van with several dramas playing out, not least of which is Canan’s concealed pregnancy.

Almanya: Willkommen in Deutschland (Ojichan no Satogaeri)
Director Yasemin Samdereli
Language German, Turkish (subtitled in Japanese)

“Almanya” is definitely the immigrant experience rendered for bourgeois tastes. Where another Turkish-German director such as Fatih Akin (“Head-On”) might focus on the wrenching personal drama of cross-cultural identity — Muslim conservatism and social pressure vs. secular freedoms and chaos — here Yasemin Samdereli faces the same issues with a smile and a hug, the clash of separate cultures subsumed by their mutability. There’s certainly room for both views, and while I prefer Akin’s sturm und drang, “Almanya” is certainly well-observed. If it’s a little cloyingly sentimental, it’s also so good-natured that it’s hard not to like. (G.F.)