Kebab Connection – Review by Preethi Kandhalu

Directed by Anno Saul, “Kebab connection” is a German-Turkish comedy film that was released in 2004. Set in Hamburg, Germany, “Kebab connection” tells the story of an aspiring film maker, Ibo Secmez, who hopes to one day make the first German Kung-Fu movie. Before he gets an approval for his script from the producer, he makes commercials for his uncle’s “King of Kebab” restaurant, which is in competition with the opposite-door Greek Taverna. Ibo and his German girlfriend, Titzi’s relationship is tested when Titzi finds out she is pregnant. An important issue the movie portrays is the ambivalence that may arise during a pregnancy when the mother and father are from different cultural backgrounds.

Though the movie was released in 2004, the issues discussed in the movie have been developing since the 1960’s when Turkish immigrants and Greek immigrants first started coming to Germany as guest workers. Though a guest worker’s job placement in Germany was meant to be temporary, Germany has become a permanent place for many of these former guest workers.

The relationship that Ibo and Titzi share garners a considerable amount of criticism in the movie since Ibo is Turkish and Titzi is German. This criticism is explicitly portrayed when Ibo announces to his family in the dinner table that Titzi is pregnant – Ibo’s father slaps him on the face. Following that, we’re taken to present day – Ibo’s father is very angry about Ibo and makes him leave home. Ibo, on the other hand, is also not sure of whether he wants the baby as he is more fixated on becoming a film maker. However, as the plot progresses, Ibo’s father softens up and is shown to being more accepting of the pregnancy – he helps Titzi carry her grocery home when he sees her in the market and also accompanies her to the hospital in his taxi cab during labor. He also scolds Ibo about his reckless behavior towards Titzi. Though there is ambivalence towards the pregnancy in the beginning from both Ibo and his parents, Ibo realizes Titzi is very important to him, and wins her back.

One may come to a conclusion that Titzi is not as involved with her parents as Ibo is with his, through the number of scenes the parents show up in – Ibo’s parents appear in a lot more scenes than do Titzi’s parents. Additionally, Titzi’s father doesn’t appear in the film at all. Nevertheless, in a brief encounter between Titzi and her mother, Titzi says she is pregnant, upon which her mother clarifies if the baby is Ibo’s and disapprovingly nods her head and says in German, “Ever seen a Turkish guy with a baby carriage?”

The attitudes towards such relationships is also portrayed in another film that we watched in class called “Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland”. The movie was released in 2011 and chronicles the life of a three generational Turkish-German family. The grand-daughter of the first generation immigrants is in a relationship with a British man and is also pregnant. The situation of the granddaughter, whose name is Canan, is similar to that of Titzi’s. Ambivalence towards such relationships – where the mother and the father of the child are from different cultural backgrounds – is alluded to in the movie when the granddaughter doesn’t share her pregnancy news out of fear for a long time. It is only after her grandfather is able to tell that she is pregnant does he give her the courage to tell the family about her news.

In summary, “Kebab Connection” portrays relationships like that of Ibo and Titzi as an acceptable relationship in society. In “Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland”, one son of the first-generation immigrants is married to a German woman and have a kid. This relationship, in addition to Canan’s relationship with the British man, further contribute to Germany’s culture of acceptance.  Ultimately, these movie make a commentary on the societies’ view and attitudes towards such relationships.

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