Mein Vater, der Gastarbeiter

Yüksel Yavuz is 15 years old when his father takes him to Germany with him after a summer spent in the Kurdish highlands. His father first took this journey in 1968: going from his life as a shepherd to work as a welder at a Hamburg dockyard. The physical and emotional distance between life in the “Little Istanbul” of the dockyard workers’ estate and village life in Turkey leaves its mark on the family. The mother stays behind in the home country, and the absentee father becomes an annual special guest, returning with suitcases full of gifts during summer. Until he cannot take it anymore and returns to Turkey. The journey between Hamburg and the Kurdish village is still made quite a few times, whether by the parents visiting their grandchildren in Germany or by the son visiting his parents at home with a film crew in tow. His father wanted to leave his mark, Yavuz says. Yet he did not heed the advice his father gave him after their arrival in Germany, choosing not to follow in his footsteps to become a worker, but rather remaining in Hamburg to study film. And thus his father does indeed leave his mark, in a way that won’t quickly fade, in this empathetic and personal documentary.
by Yüksel Yavuz Germany 1995 Kurdish, German 52’ Colour Documentary Form


Director Yüksel Yavuz
Screenplay Yüksel Yavuz, Britta Ohm
Cinematography Rolf Blank, Ralf Klingelhöfer
Editing Markus Silberschmied, Arpad Bondy
Sound Veronique Friedmann, Martin Heckmann
Sound Mixing Manfred Herold
Producer Thomas Kufus
Commissioning Editor Claudia Tronnier
Co-Production ZDF-Das kleine Fernsehspiel Mainz, Deutschland

Yüksel Yavuz

Born in Karakoçan, Turkey in 1964, he emigrated to West Germany in 1980, where he studied economics and later earned a degree in visual communication with a focus on film. Since making his debut in 1994, his films have been shown at national and international festivals, including Aprilkinder (1998) at the Berlinale and Kleine Freiheit (2003) in Cannes.


1994 100 und eine Mark; 18 min. 1995 Mein Vater, der Gastarbeiter; 52 min. 1998 Aprilkinder; 85 min. 2000 Beyaz Mantolu Adam (Der Mann mit dem weißen Mantel); 15 min. 2003 Kleine Freiheit; 98 min. 2007 Close Up Kurdistan; 104 min. 2010 Sehnsucht nach Istanbul; 58 min. 2013 Hêvî – Hoffnung; 99 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023