This made-for-TV documentary film for the series Denk ich an Deutschland (“I think of Germany”) follows Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin and his parents (Mustafa Enver Akin and Cem Akin), as they visit the village the Akin family comes from. The elder Akins were part of a wave of so-called “Gastarbeiter” (“guest workers) who were recruited by the West German government in the 1960s. What was intended to be a two-year stay became a 35-year-long residency in Hamburg, Germany, where Fatih Akin was born. As Akin’s father says in the film: “Wir haben einfach vergessen, zurückzukehren” (“We simply forgot to go back”; a sentiment echoed in the documentary’s title).
This film represents the director’s first foray into the documentary genre, and follows Akin’s parents at work and at home. It was the well-known director’s first foray into documentaries, and he visited the same region of Turkey to make the documentary Müll im Garten Eden. The title references Heinrich Heine’s famous “Nachtgedanken,” which begins with the lines: “Denk’ ich an Deutschland in der Nacht / Dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht” (“If I think of Germany in the night / I am????” (trans. Peter Branscombe)