When We Leave
|When We Leave|
|Directed by||Feo Aladag|
|Produced by||Feo Aladag|
|Written by||Feo Aladag|
|Music by||Max Richter, Stephané Moucha|
|Edited by||Andrea Mertens|
When We Leave (German: Die Fremde, Turkish: Ayrılık) is a 2010 German-Turkish drama film, produced, written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Feo Aladag. The film received worldwide acclaim, and represented Aladag’s debut as a producer, writer and director.
When We Leave tells the story of a young German/Turkish mother’s struggle for self-determination between two systems of values. It is a multi-layered story about honor, intolerance and the unshakeable belief in a harmonious coexistence.
The film stars Sibel Kekilli, Florian Lukas, Alwara Höfels, Nursel Köse and Turkish actors Settar Tanröiğen and Derya Alabora. It was produced by Independent Artists, a company founded by Aladag in 2005.
When We Leave had its world premiere on February 13, 2010 at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. It screened in the special Panorama section and was awarded the Europa Cinemas Label Prize. It began its German release on March 11, 2010.
Reviewers called When We Leave “the strongest debut film in years” and gave special notice to the sensitive direction of the actors as well as the courage the film showed in addressing such heated subject matter.
The film was awarded numerous national and international prizes, including seven nominations for the 2010 German Film Awards, in the categories Best Film, Best Debut Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Score.
The film won two German Film Awards for Best Film in Bronze and Best Actress. It also won the LUX Film Prize for the Best European Film 2010, the New Faces Award (Best First Feature), the DEFA Board’s Emerging Artists Prize (Best First Feature 2010), the Grand Prize for Best Film at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival as well as many others from film festivals including Ghent, São Paulo, and Calgary.
When We Leave ultimately played over 100 film festivals worldwide, in 73 countries and on 6 continents. On 17 September 2010 the German selection committee chose When We Leave as its official entry in the competition for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
- Sibel Kekilli - Umay
- Nizam Schiller - Cem
- Derya Alabora - Halyme
- Settar Tanriogen - Kader
- Tamer Yigit - Mehmet
- Serhad Can - Acar
- Almila Bagriacik - Rana
- Florian Lukas - Stipe
- Nursel Köse - Gül
- Alwara Höfels - Atife
- Ufuk Bayraktar - Kemal
- Blanca Apilánez - Carmen
- Rosa Enskat - Manuela
Aladag worked with an extremely diverse group of both trained and non-trained actors for the film, some of which came from street-casting sessions. Nizam Schiller (Cem), Almila Bagriacik (Rana) and Serhad Can (Acar) all made their screen debut in the film. Her own acting experience helped Aladag to individualize her approach to each actor in the film. All non-actors participated in an acting workshop which lasted several months, during which Aladag helped them learn from her experience in front of the camera.
Umay (Sibel Kekili) lives with her husband Kemal (Ufuk Bayraktar) and son Cem (Nizam Schiller) in the suburbs of Istanbul. Kemal has regular violent outbursts against both his wife and son. Umay’s longing for her home and parents in Berlin finally overwhelms her. She packs up her things and flees her life and marriage in Istanbul.
She returns to her family home in Berlin, where she hopes to start a new, independent life with her son. She hopes her family will be supportive of her new beginning, but when Umay’s father Kader (Setter Tanröigen) learns what Umay has done, he orders her to return immediately. According to tradition she belongs forever to her husband Kemal. Umay refuses to go and burns her passport. “Stop dreaming!” her mother tells her, as her siblings suffer rejection in their community based on their sister’s actions.
Mehmet, Umay’s older brother (Tamer Yigit), and Kader devise a plan to kidnap young Cem and take him back to his father in Istanbul. Umay overhears them and flees to start a new life with her son, without her family. She moves to a women’s shelter, where she builds a new life for herself. Through her work at a kitchen she meets Stipe (Florian Lukas), a colleague she feels drawn to.
Soon she even has her own apartment and a satisfying new life. Only one thing is missing; her family. Time and again she tries to contact her mother and younger brother Acar. Every time she fails. During all of this, her father and brothers come to a difficult decision. Acar (Serhad Can) has earned a terrible fate; he’s been elected to kill his beloved sister to restore his family’s lost honor.
When We Leave was produced by Independent Artists in co-production with WDR, RBB and ARTE. It was supported by the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the BKM, the NRW Film Board and the Kuratorium junger deutscher Film.
The film had its debut at the Berlin Film Festival. Afterwards it was released on March 11, 2010 throughout Germany by its German Distributor Majestic. The director supported the theatrical release with a Germany-wide Q&A tour. On August 27, 2010 Majestic Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray and DVD.
While directing PSAs for Amnesty International’s “Violence Against Women” campaign, Aladag began researching themes related to domestic violence. Her research led her to a series of honor killings in Germany, mainly perpetrated against women who tried to free themselves from familial and social pressures.
She quickly became engrossed in her quest to understand the complex family dynamics that contribute to honor killings. Out of this passion came the desire to create a cinematic story that dealt with the fate of a young German woman of Turkish origins. Aladag researched for over two years and consulted with various experts on the issues involved. She researched police case files from the previous fifteen years and discovered similar patterns in them that helped her begin writing the screenplay.
Aladag wanted to distill the conflicts she found in those documents in her screenplay. She wanted to create an emotional, authentic but also universal story, without moral judgments and with the goal of showing not only the conflict, but also to empathetically portray the tragedy of the situation.
Production and post-production
Production began on July 15, 2008 for what was to be a 39 day shoot. When We Leave was shot on 35mm in Cinemascope. Aladag worked closely with editor Andrea Mertens for four months at Cineimpuls, a post-production house in Berlin.
When We Leave was shot in Berlin and Turkey. For Aladag it was especially important to tell the story as authentically as possible, and she did extensive location scouting. Among the Berlin locations were the well-known clubs "SO36," and the "Monarch" bar in Kreuzberg.
Interiors of the Aslan family home were shot on Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin-Mitte, and the wedding scene was shot in the Neukölln district of Berlin. One particularly unique location was the former residence of the Ethiopian Ambassador in Pankow, which was used for the scenes in the women’s shelter.
Teufelsberg in West Berlin was the setting for Umay and Stipe’s date. To maintain maximum authenticity, many important scenes were shot in Turkey, in the province of Kayseri as well as in Istanbul. Interiors for Kemal, the Turkish husband’s family, were shot in the Istanbul suburb Dudullu, and the exteriors of Kader’s journey to visit his father were shot in his home village of Kayseri.
Joseph Smiegelski wrote in the Huffington Post that he "consider[ed] When We Leave one of the best movies I have ever seen. It is Bicycle Thief good, and the kind of movie I like the most: a simple yet meaningful story told without bells and whistles and with a small number of major characters. [It] is a remarkable artistic achievement. You must see this film."
The film won Best Narrative Feature at the 9th Tribeca Film Festival, Best Film at the 37th Ghent Film Festival in Belgium, the European Parliament's Lux Prize, and was selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards, but it didn't make the final shortlist.
Internationally, the film has won the following awards:
- 60th German Film Awards, Germany 2010
- Best Leading Actress, Sibel Kekilli
- Best Film – Lola In Bronze
- 60th Berlin International Film Festival, Germany 2010
- Europa Cinema Label Award
- 9th Tribeca Film Festival, USA 2010
- Best Actress, Sibel Kekilli
- Best Film, World Narrative Feature Competition
- LUX Film Prize 2010, Film Prize Of The European Parliament, Europe 2010
- Best European Film
- New Faces Award, Germany 2010
- Best Debutfilm, Feo Aladag
- 20th German Camera Prize, Germany 2010
- Best Camera, Judith Kaufmann, Bvk
- 15th German/Turkish Film Festival Nuremberg, Germany 2010
- Best Actress, Sibel Kekilli
- 32nd Créteil Women's Film Festival, France 2010
- Best Film – Audience Award
- 1st Recklinghausen Film Festival, Germany 2010
- Best Film
- Bernhard Wicki Film Prize, Germany 2010
- German Cinema Award For Peace, Sibel Kekilli For When We Leave
- 20th Cologne Conference, Germany 2010
- German Casting Award 2010, Ulrike Mueller
- 11th Video Champions Awards, Germany 2010
- Video Champion Artist Award, Sibel Kekilli For When We Leave
- 11th Calgary International Film Festival, Canada 2010
- Best International Feature
- 37th Flanders International Film Festival Ghent, Belgium 2010
- Port Of Ghent Audience Award Best Film
- 39th Festival Du Nouveau Cinéma De Montréal, Canada 2010
- Best Actress, Sibel Kekilli
- 23rd Panorama Of European Cinema In Athen, Greece 2010
- Best Film - International Jury Award
- 34th São Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil 2010
- Best Film
- Defa Foundation, Germany 2010
- Award To Support Artistic Talent, Feo Aladag
- 25th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Usa 2010
- Best Film
- 10th International Film Festival Marrakech, Morocco 2010
- Best Performance For The Entire Cast Award
- 21st Diva - German Entertainment Award 2011, Germany 2011
- Jury Award - Best Art Direction Of The Year 2010, Feo Aladag
- 22rd[clarification needed] Premiers Plans Film Festival In Angers, France 2011
- European First Feature Films - Audience Award
- 18th Victoria Film Festival, Canada 2011
- Best Feature
- German Film Critics Awards 2010, Germany 2011
- Best Film - Feo Aladag
- Best Debut Film - Feo Aladag
- Best Screenplay - Feo Aladag
- Best Actress - Sibel Kekilli
- Best Cinematography - Judith Kaufmann
- Best Editing - Andrea Mertens
- Best Score - Max Richter Und Stéphane Moucha
- Die Goldene Zwiebel Esslingen 2010, Germany 2011
- Best Debut - Feo Aladag
- Best Leading Actress - Sibel Kekilli
- 4th Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFES)
- Best Direction - Feo Aladag
- List of submissions to the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of German submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- "When We Leave Film Review". German Films. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "ARTE TV Interview". ARTE. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "New York Times". New York Times. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "Majestic Press Release" (PDF). Majestic. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "MS Magazine Interview". Ms. Magazine. 2011-01-11. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "Imdb Credits page". Imdb. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "When We Leave: The Best Tribeca Film". Huffington Post. 2010-05-02. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "When We Leave Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "65 Countries Enter Race for 2010 Foreign Language Film Oscar". oscars.org. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
- "European Parliament Cinema Prize goes to Turkish film 'Die Fremde'". Hürriyet Daily News. 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "EP cinema prize goes to 'Die Fremde'". Cumhuriyet. 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "Film starring Kekilli wins 2010 Lux Prize". Today's Zaman. 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "9 Foreign Language Films Continue to Oscar Race". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- "When We Leave: Awards and Nominations". independent-artists-filmproduktion. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- "2010 Tribeca Film Festival Award Winners". tribecafilm.com. Retrieved 21 June 2011.