Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No. 1, 2011
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Nancy Snipper
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Bernard Dubé
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl

Feo Aladag's

Feo Aladag


reviewed by


When We Leave played at Montreal's 2010 Festival du nouveau cinéma. For the festival ratings, click HERE. Beverly Quesdat, whose review originally appeared in, gave the film 4.0 out of 4.

It is important to note right from the beginning of this review that many Muslin men are faithful, honourable, supportive and even humble in their marriage relationships. It is also important to note that a blessing in a tightly knit Muslim community is a religiously-based cultural tradition that honours and supports the family unit.

That being noted, we are also familiar with patriarchal dominance in the Arab-Muslim world. Women, though outwardly revered and protected, do not always have the same legal rights as men under some interpretations of the Muslim Sharia system.

The film When We Leave (Die Fremde) examines what happens when a husband misuses (from a Western perspective) his dominance and power. What options do Muslim women from conservative communities have in unhappy or abusive marriages?

Interestingly, while this film begins in Turkey where the protagonist is living with her husband, she ends up with her son in Germany, where her parents live and where there is a state-supported safe house system for women.

Feo Aladag was inspired to write the screenplay for When We Leave after participating in Amnesty International’s Violence Against Women campaign. Her specific interest in honour killings led her to write this sensitive drama of a beautiful, intelligent and somewhat plucky young woman, played with agonizing passion by Sibel Kekilli, a German actress born in Turkey.

With the opening scenes in Turkey, the viewer understands that the lovely Umay (Kekilli) cannot accept the uncontrollable rages of her husband. When We Leave is the story of her life after she takes her young son and leaves to live, unannounced, with her parents in Berlin.

When confronted with the disapproval of their Muslim community, Ulmay’s parents, who demonstrably love their daughter very much, are faced with social and ethical challenges. One character dismally tries to explain to Umay that whenever there is a struggle between the community and the child, the community always wins.

Umay cannot accept that. Her family knows she’s a good person. Her mother sees the marks of abuse on Umay’s back. Her two younger siblings, a brother and sister, love her dearly and crave her attention. Her cute little son is devoted and she is a loving mother. Her father, a good husband and parent, is obviously conflicted.

So, what will be the stronger card, love or honor? What will have the greater pull, family or community?

Aladag’s tenderly portrayed story, exploring the passionate feelings of the members of Umay’s family, has been selected by Germany as its entry in the 2011 Oscar competition for Best Foreign Film. It deserves this recognition, not only for examining a sensitive and potentially inflammatory topic, but for telling it well and with compassion for all sides.

When We Leave garnered the Tribeca Film Festival Founder’s Award for Best Narrative Feature. Also, Sibell Kekilli won Tribeca’s award for Best Actress in a Narrative Feature.

There are few films, particularly in the mainstream, that can possibly be more meaningful, beautiful and thought-provoking this year than When We Leave.

For the ratings of 2010 Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, HERE.
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Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 13-24st, (514) 844-2172
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