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Yüksel Yavuz’s Kleine Freiheit / A Little Bit of Freedom


Yüksel Yavuz’s internationally celebrated film Kleine Freiheit / A Little Bit of Freedom (2003), tells the story of a friendship between two young men, both of them illegal immigrants living in Altona, one of them a Kurd from Turkey. Baran’s application for asylum has been declined, and he has therefore fallen into an illegal status in Germany. That means that he does not have basic rights, such as health care or job protection. He works as a delivery boy in a relative’s kebab restaurant. When he has a toothache, they try to cure him in the kitchen by sticking a hot skewer into his mouth. His scream leads over into the first montage sequence of a bicycle trip. This triple exposure sequence conveys a gripping cross-section of the neighborhood by superimposing shots of city traffic with shots of the various locations to which kebab is delivered, ranging from a Turkish bakery to a construction site and a brothel. The sequence conveys a sense of multilayered locality, which is underscored by the music of Mercan Dede. Despite the excess of mobility displayed in these images, the characters remain confined within the St. Pauli neighborhood throughout the film. Taking advantage of a “Germany in transit,” Yavuz’s cinematically impressive engagement with locations in Hamburg raises a whole range of interesting questions such as: Where is home? How are transnational mobility and traumatic memory represented in cinema? Do immigrants live in a “parallel world”? Do they care about integration into German society? Do they form new inter-ethnic alliances in this new place? How do questions of race and gender come into play? And where are German (and global) spectators positioned in relation to immigrant spaces and networks?

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