A Little Bit of Freedom (Kleine Freiheit) 2003

“You’re young. Don’t bloody your hands.”

In the film A Little Bit of Freedom Turkish-born director Yuksel Yazuv explores the immigrant question through two young boys who are living illegally in Hamburg. Baran (Cadgas Bozkurt) from a war torn Kurdish village in Southeastern Turkey works at a small kebab café delivering food via bicycle for his boss. A cousin who also works at the café arranges this tenuous job after the death of Baran’s parents. Lonely and alienated, Baran meets Selim (Necmettin Cobanoglu)–an African teen who lives in a derelict flophouse. Selim has a shady arrangement with his brutal landlord to hand over a percentage of what he earns from street drug deals.

Baran and Selim meet casually in the street and strike up a friendship that grows stronger in adversity. Both young men lack the necessary papers that allow them to work, so they scrape a living the best way they can. Knowing that any clash with the ‘authorities’ will bring deportation, the two teens avoid the police like the plague. Baran and Selim have no future in Germany, but then they have no future in their ‘home’ countries either. Cast adrift, all they can do is tread water, eat, and survive, taking their lives one day at a time. Baran and Selim are in desperate straits–although Baran has a network of fellow Kurdish exiles to fall back on.

Naturally, with characters this desperate, the status quo isn’t stable for long. Denied political asylum, Baran’s one chance may come through marriage to his boss’s bratty, spoiled daughter. But Baran resists the relationship–even though she makes it clear that she’s interested.

Baran’s cousin, Haydar (Nazmi Kirik) is a PKK guerilla fighter, and old scores are revived one day when Baran meets a fellow Kurd in the street. As is customary, he takes the man back to the café to integrate him into the exile community, but this meeting sparks a chain of tragic events.

The film covers several social and topical issues–poverty, immigration, homosexuality and the political struggle between the PKK and Turkey–without trying to provide neat little answers. Perhaps the film’s most touching scene takes place when Baran goes to deliver some kebabs to a party. With Selim in tow, the two teenagers take the food to an apartment full of young people. The film subtly places Baran and Selim on the outside looking in at a type of social event they will never be able to enjoy. As Baran and Selim absorb the attitudes of the carefree partygoers, the unspoken realization that they will never have the luxury of being ‘normal’ teenagers weighs heavily in the air between these two outcasts. A Little Bit of Freedom is in German, Kurdish and Turkish. If you enjoy this film I also recommend Journey to the Sun–a film that examines the treatment of Kurds in Turkey.

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