Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Aus dem Nichts

Fatih Akin is a German-Turkish director whose work I greatly admire. He does not shirk away from telling stories that reveal our sometimes dark human nature.

The last film I saw of his was Gegen die Wand. It's a tough film to watch as it deals with sex, drugs and violence as its expressed in the lives of a Turkish woman fighting against the restrictions of her culture and a man dealing with the trauma of losing his wife. The movie is not for the faint of heart, and I had to look away during some scenes.

The latest film from Akin is called Aus dem Nichts. To explain it, one needs a bit of background. From 2000 to 2007, Germany experienced a series of murders perpetrated by a group called the NSU, a neo-Nazi outfit founded in the former East Germany. The target of the NSU were Turkish/Kurdish Germans. Ten people, including one ethnic Greek and one ethnic German, were murdered in total. A German acquaintance of mine told me the reason it took so many years for the German authorities to figure out who was behind the killings is that the police had a hard time separating the victims from the perpetrators. A sort of, 'Oh, but what were these people doing that got them killed?' The police incorrectly assumed that those who were murdered were somehow involved in the Turkish or Kurdish mafia, and, therefore, may have had it coming.

As it turned out, three ethnic Germans were responsible for the murders. Two of the three perpetrators were found dead by police (suicide?) & one stood trial. I don't know if she's yet permanently behind bars, but I hope so.

Back to Aus dem Nichts: The protagonist, an ethnic German, loses her family (Turkish-German husband & bi-racial child) in a bomb attack. She thinks she'll receive justice as the killers are caught and brought to trial. When she does not receive the result she expects, things go horribly off-course. The film did well at Cannes, so I think that's why one of our local art house cinemas secured it for a limited release here last week. Tickets for the film sold out really quickly. I stupidly had waited to purchase only to be left high and dry on movie day. Somewhat undeterred, I went to the cinema anyway to see if there would be rush tickets offered. Luckily, I showed up about 45 minutes before movie time, waited in line with other eager film-goers & was rewarded. Actually, I think about ten of us from the rush line made it in. Sometimes the early bird does get the worm!

While waiting in line, a few of us got to chatting (as you do). The woman in front of me was from Israel, but had moved here back in the 70s. Her parents had moved from Europe to British Palestine, and she was born two years after the creation of the state of Israel. The woman behind me was from Germany, but her story was far from straight-forward. She told both me and the Israeli that her parents were Jews who had escaped Poland, making their way to Germany after the war. This was where she was born. Her parents went to the American zone & applied for a US visa. After a ten-year wait, she and her parents were finally able to go to America. They had a sponsor family in San Jose, Calif., so that was where they went. The woman told us, smiling: 'My father didn't know that he could leave San Jose. He thought he had to stay there!' She also said that when she entered Elementary School the other children, upon hearing her accent, called her German slurs. She never corrected them.

If you're up for a film dealing with the nationalistic bullshit currently plaguing our times, then I would suggest you check Akin's film out.


  1. I wonder whether it will make it here. I hope so. There is more than a little nationalism in play here too. Something I find dangerous. And frightening.
    Growing up, because of my surname, I got both Jewish AND German slurs.

    1. I hope it would. The Cannes win for Best Actress must carry some weight. Our foreign press awards gave it a Best Foreign Film win. Perhaps Aus dem Nichts got a nom at your AACTAs for Best Foreign Film?

  2. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Sure! -hope I didn't reveal too much of the storyline.


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