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Movie screening: The Edge of Heaven

Date:                     Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time:                     6:30 PM
Venue:                   Goethe Institut Accra
Address:                 30 Kakramadu Road, next to NAFTI, East Cantonments
Organiser:              Goethe Institut Accra
Contact number:     0302 779 770
Email:                    program@accra.goethe.org

Ali is arrested and deported to Turkey. Nejat severs contact with his father and, having learned that Yeter used the money she earned as a prostitute to support her daughter Ayten (Nurgül Yeşilçay) in Istanbul, he takes over a German bookshop there and goes in search of her. However Ayten, a militant political activist on the run from the Turkish police, is travelling in the opposite direction and enters Germany illegally.

The story jumps from one character to another, and repeatedly leaps back in time. This produces a multi-perspective rondel-like narrative structure reminiscent of Kurosawa’s RASHOMON, which now follows Ayten’s destiny: an encounter with a young, politically active German student, Lotte Staub (Patrycia Ziolkowska), which results in a love story and a fierce dispute with Lotte’s jealous, overprotective mother (Hanna Schygulla), imprisonment by the German asylum authorities and deportation to a Turkish women’s prison. The tale culminates in Istanbul where Lotte is shot in a tragic accident. Her grieving mother takes up her daughter’s cause and meets Nejat.

The film covers major issues, such as immigration and asylum rights, prostitution and family reconstruction, death and metamorphosis. Ultimately, however, its strength stems from the power of its characterization. The protagonists are drawn with wonderful precision: the father’s gnarled form, the activist daughter’s militant spirit, the German professor’s contemplative calm. A particularly beautifully crafted sequence is the kitchen scene where Hanna Schygulla decorates a cake with cherries. The mother, who is jealous of Ayten because of the rift she has created with her daughter, is forced to shake herself out of her lethargic state as she attempts to lecture the young Turkish girl.

“The Edge of Heaven” is an expression of Akin’s gentle, meditative, feminine side. It is no coincidence that the crucial scenes take place in the kitchen (an earlier version was entitled “Soul Kitchen”) and that both mother figures play central roles. The Turkish mother is depicted as a whore-cum-saint and her German counterpart as a clucking maternal hen, who manages to break free from the confines of her taciturn nature. Audiences will doubtless be eager to see how Akin will bring the “Love, Death and the Devil” trilogy to a close and portray the devil on the silver screen.

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