Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe

Winterblume / Winter Flowers

Kadir Sözen(1997)


Genre: Road Movie
Language: German

This film is available as a DVD in the Project Library at Royal Holloway, University of London

Having lived in Germany for seventeen years, one morning Mehmet is suddenly arrested because his residence permit has expired and because he is unemployed and has relied on benefits. Mehmet is extradited. Back in Istanbul, he works on building sites and does other casual labour to support himself while trying to obtain a visa to return to Germany, where his wife and son are waiting for him. Meanwhile, his wife Gülistan involves a lawyer and even wins a court case which means that Mehmet could return to Germany, provided that German authorities issue the relevant immigration documents. But this is not the case. 

Mehmet, desperate to be reunited with his wife and son, decides to pay a trafficker some five thousand marks to embark on a hazardous illegal journey back to his wife and son in Cologne. During the journey, the traffickers squeeze the last penny out of the desperate illegal immigrants to 'subsidise' car repairs, bribes paid to border guards, and the purchase of a new mini-bus. When an asylum seeker from Sudan, one of Mehmet's fellow travelers cannot pay, he is abandoned in the middle of nowhere. In Budapest, the group is left waiting for days in a hostel before their can resume their journey. The atmosphere becomes tense and explosive and, when the  group leader demands another five hundred marks from each immigrant, one group member commits manslaughter in the attempt to steal the required sum.  Mehmet and his buddy Müslum escape in the mini-bus before the police arrive, taking a Turkish grandmother and her grandson who are in search of the boy's parents in Germany, with them. Yet close to the German border they run out of petrol and money. Having forgotten their passports in Budapest, they decide to cross the border  on foot, ploughing their way through difficult terrain and ice and snow on top of the Alps. The grandmother and her grandson get arrested by border guards but Mehmet escapes once again. Meanwhile his wife and son have travelled by train to the border to await Mehmet at the train station on the German side. They wait all day and night. In the morning the son asks Gülistan for some money to buy something at the kiosk across the road. He returns with a white (winter) flower which he gives his mother as a present. Mehmet exhausted from his trip and unable to find his way across the snow covered mountain top, falls asleep in the snow and dies. 

This is the second feature film of Kadir Sözen, a Turkish-born filmmaker working and living in Cologne.  Kadir Sözen was born in Gaziantep in Turkey in 1964 and emigrated with his family to Germany in 1969. 

Key themes: illegal immigration; journey back to Germany (rather than Turkey); portrayal of a Mehmet's wife Gülistan as a westernised Turkish woman, devoted to her husband; border crossing

Posted by Daniela Berghahn on 17 May 2007 • Discuss this Film

Last edited: 17 05 2007 - Designed by PageToScreen