Kebab Connection – Review by Sara Sellami

Kebab Connection is a comedy by Anno Saul, a German film director, and was released in 2005. The film tells the story of Ibo, a young Turkish-German who dreams about making the first German Kung-Fu movie. While waiting for a big opportunity to make his debut, he films Kung-Fu-themed commercials for his uncle’s kebab restaurant called King of Kebab. His life is turned upside-down when he learns that his German girlfriend Titzi is pregnant. The film could have been about multiculturalism and the difficulty to have two cultures get along, yet it changed its course midway and focused more on Ibo’s acceptance of his oncoming fatherhood. It still manages however to give us some comedic insights about relationships between identity groups, and the life of a German-Turkish family in Hamburg.

The theme of multiculturalism is treated in different ways., and the movie depicts a multicultural German population which is not made up of only ethnic white Germans. Three main ethnicities are represented in the movie: ethnic Germans, German-Turks, and German-Greeks. All three groups interact with each other. The latter two are rivals, as shown through the competition between two businesses: King of Kebab and its neighbor across the street, a Greek restaurant. The movie makes fun of the cliché according to which Turks and Greeks do not get along with each other by portraying both Ibo’s uncle and his competitor trying to appeal to more clients thanks to Ibo’s commercials. The characters with Turkish or Greek origins, including Ibo, are children of guest workers that left their homeland to go work in Germany. Turkey and Greece are two of the many countries that signed a labor-recruitment contract with Germany in the 1950s and 1960s: they agreed to send workers to Germany to make up for the labor shortage. Finally, the idea of a mix of cultures is also conveyed by Ibo himself. He is passionate about Kung-Fu movies and defies expectations in his short-films by combining different cultural elements. His commercial for King of Kebab entails martial arts and typical late-night food run for a kebab, and he strongly believes he will be able to film the very first German Kung-Fu movie, even though the idea sounds absurd and hilarious to audience. Through Ibo, the film invites the viewers to think outside of cultural constructs.

Kebab Connection also deals with the life of a Turkish-German family while playing with the clichés associated with Turks. Ibo’s family is not the traditional conservative Turkish family, even though they still have typical Turkish values such as hospitality. However, the family also has a progressive side: in a flashback, we see the father warning Ibo that, even though he is allowed to date a German girl, he should never get her pregnant. This scene goes against the common place of immigrants refusing to be fully integrated into German society. What reinforces this is the fact that Ibo’s father accepts Titzi and her baby as part of his family and tries to convince his son to act responsibly. Accepting an ethnic German into a Turkish-German family is not a problem in the movie, proof that Turkish and German cultures are not considered as incompatible. Kebab Connection uses the theme of multiculturalism not to depict the issues that may arise, but to portray a part of German society that accepts its diversity.

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