© X Verleih/Warner Bros.

Es gilt das gesprochene Wort (I Was, I Am, I Will Be)
Germany/France 2019

Opening 1 Aug 2019

Directed by: Ilker Çatak
Writing credits: Nils Mohl, Ilker Çatak, Johannes Duncker
Principal actors: Anne Ratte-Polle, Ogulcan Arman Uslu, Godehard Giese, Jörg Schüttauf, Johanna Polley

Marion (Anne Ratte-Polle), a German pilot by profession, must step back from work commitments due to health issues. She and her boyfriend Raphael (Godehard Giese) fly to Marmaris, Turkey, for relaxation on the beach. Baran (Oğulcan Arman Uslu) is a young Turkish man, willing to try any kind of work. He starts as a dish washer in a restaurant, takes over as a waiter, and evolves into “lover boy” for rich female tourists who expect more than just good food and a stroll on the Turkish Riviera. Baran seeks a connection which could lead him out of Turkey and into a better future. Marion, as surprised as anyone, rises to the challenge. Perhaps it wasn’t so unforeseeable, considering that Marion is suffering from breast cancer and her boyfriend Raphael has to divide his time between her and his wife and small daughter. Why not create some new potential for happiness, at least for Baran? He flies to Hamburg, Germany, and they get married, in order to fulfil the German regulation, which allows a foreign spouse of a German a residence permit for three years, after which one can independently receive a residence permit. He moves into an apartment, which Marion has set up for him; she assumes initial financial support. He struggles to learn German, get a driver’s license and find a job. Marion continues her relationship with Raphael and visits her doctor.

This film is divided into three sections. “I Was” describes life before Marion and Baran meet; “I am” describes interaction between Marion and Baran. You can guess the third part: “I Will Be.” Director Ilker Çatak was born of Turkish parents in Berlin and moved to Turkey at age 13 where he attended German schools. He moved back to Germany for studies, including at the Hamburg Media School. Çatak said that his Turkish grandparents were guest workers in Germany for 20 years before returning to Turkey to open a boarding house. He spent his summers there and observed foreign guests much as they appear in his film. Filmed on location in Marmaris and Hamburg (with help from the Filmförderung Hamburg-Schleswig-Holstein), you never really recognize Hamburg, except, of course, a scene with the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall.

Ilker Çatak was successful with his short film Es war einmal Indianerland and in 2015 he won the Student Academy Award for his short film Sadakat (Fidelity). Es gilt das gesprochene Wort (which could be translated literally as “The spoken word counts”) is his first full-length film. This is also the first film for Oğulcan Arman Uslu, who was discovered in a Turkish theater; the film team worked in four languages. Eleven songs accompany us through the 120 minutes. Franz Schubert’s “Leise flehen meine Lieder” (Silently my songs beg through the night to you…) is the melody on which we sail through the plot. I could have happily sat for another hour, so involved was I in their lives, which seemed familiar. I have friends whose foreign spouses suffer while learning German and getting a job; I have a friend who married a man from Thailand, so that he could stay in Germany. Three years later they split and he immediately brought in a young girl from his own country. (Becky Tan)

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