The subject of this well-intentioned documentary on the expulsion of Turkish citizens from Germany is Melek Tez, a basically disgruntled, 38-year-old woman who does not give the impression she would be happy anywhere. As director Meerapfel follows Melek through the bureaucratic maze that will eventually supply her with a certain amount of funds on her departure, it is revealed that she left a daughter behind in Turkey while she took off for Germany. Her dreams included the possibility of a romantic liaison that would undoubtedly provide for her, yet none of this worked out. Now on her journey back home, viewers are likely to wonder if Melek’s aimless existence is any indication of the norm, or not. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide
The real life of one Turkish immigrant tells more than statistics and the worn-out slogans about foreigner-politics in West-Berlin. The film depicts some facts about the life and the destiny of Melek, a 38 years old Turkish woman, who decides to go back to her home country after 14 years of living and working in Berlin.
It’s the portrait of an unusual person, a woman with quite a lot of chuzpeh and a strong will to survive. She forces us to reconsider the stereotyped idea we commonly have about a “typical” Turkish woman.
“…’Melek Leaves‘ does far more than simply record Gemany’s treatment of guest workers: it takes a provocative, sideways look at the roots of racist attitudes, the conventions of film-making and the difficulty of turning messy, awkward, real lives into neat documentaries. A film, in fact, which ends up far bigger than the sum of its parts.” Edinburgh Film Festival Programme, Edinburgh (Jane Root, August of 1985)