On Monday, April 4, St. Olaf’s German Film Series will be presenting a screening of Turkish/German film Gegen die Wand (German for “Head On”) in Viking Theater at 7 p.m. Directed by Faith Akin, and starring Birol Unel and Sibel Kekilli, Gegen die Wand tells the story of two suicidal drug addicts, Cahit and Sibel, who form an unlikely romantic attraction after a business-like marriage deal.
Though they originally marry only so Sibel can escape her conservative, patriarchal family, after living together, the two eventually fall in love. Far from a happy ending, Cahit is taken to prison after accidentally killing one of Sibel’s ex-lovers in a bar fight. The rest of the film follows Sibel’s tragic journey through life as a single woman in a patriarchal society. Fleeing to Istanbul to escape her family’s anger and shunning of her, Sibel lives with her divorced sister and seeks employment. Finding work at a bar, Sibel’s struggles continue when she is raped by her employer and beaten nearly to death by three men as she walks home one night.
After these events, the film moves forward in time to Cahit’s release from prison and his journey to Istanbul to find Sibel. Though eventually the two are reunited, it is revealed that Sibel has remarried and has a daughter and the film ends with each of them parting ways.
This semester’s theme for the German Film Series is “Migration Cinema” and Gegen die Wand presents the work of prominent Turkish/German director Faith Akin. Winner of “Best Film” and “Audience Award” at the 2004 European Film Awards, the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 54th Berlin International Film Festival and the Goya Award for Best European Film of 2004, Gegen die Wand is an excellent introduction to Turkish/German cinema.
While Gegen die Wand is an important film, it should be noted that the film tackles some difficult issues, and contains many potential triggers. Viewers should prepare themselves for two hours of attempted suicide, self-harm, rape, graphic violence, frequent drug use, full frontal nudity and explicit sexual content. The film’s content is presented directly and graphically, and its unresolved ending may be difficult for some viewers.
Attending this screening can also count as class credit for those currently enrolled in German languages courses.