Friday, January 11, 2008

Jason goes to Berlin and Beyond--opening night

Kicking off the bay area film festival year, and no one has a more delicious (or more crowded) opening night spread than the Germans. Not just the food, but the beer...and the wine...and the martinis...oh yeah, it was a little tough to stay awake during the movie. Thank god for caffeinated mints.

The film was "The Edge of Heaven", a German-Turkish film about family, hopes, coincidences, fate, and missed fate. It's also Germany's nomination for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar (last year's winner, "The Lives of Others", plays at the festival Saturday night as part of a tribute to Ulrich Mühe).
The (nearly) interweaving stories are told in three parts. The first is ominously titled "Yeter's Death". Yeter (Nursel Köse, pictured below) is a Turkish woman in Bremen working as a prostitute. And old man, after enjoying her services, falls in love with her, brings her to his home, and makes him his live-in girlfriend. She lives there a while with the man and his son, a professor at the local university. But Yeter yearns to bring her daughter Ayten to Germany (she's back in Istanbul). And the title is indeed prophetic (umm...spoiler alert!). Anyway, the son ends up going to Istanbul, looks for Ayten, but doesn't find her. Then the second part of the movie starts, where we learn than Ayten is a communist and a criminal (she fired a gun at a rally). She hides, takes on a different identity, and travels to Bremen to find her mother. This is where coincidence and missed fate plays a role. She goes to the university (not as a student, just getting some cheap food) and takes a nap in the professor/son's class. She's within 100 meters of her mother on multiple occasions, but they never actually meet. The story travels back and forth from Bremen to Istanbul more times, and I won't give any more of the plot away. I will say it's well acted, the story is engaging and told in an innovative way. Despite the obvious foreshadowing in the section titles, the results are still surprising. And it ends on an oddly contemplative note. It's a very good movie.
Here's Nursel Köse in the Q&A afterwards, talking to festival co-founder/organizer Ingrid Eggers.

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