Opening 9 May 2019
On the evening of 2005 Hatun Aynur Sürücüs was shot on a Berlin street by her youngest brother Nuri. Her deeply religious Muslim family had emigrated from a Kurdish section of Turkey with one child. They had eight more children in Berlin (including Hatun, who went by her middle name Aynur) with whom they shared limited apartment space. Aynur was separated from her familiar environment when her parents sent her back to Turkey to marry her cousin. She was only 16 and forced to leave school. Soon she returned to her parents, pregnant, and hoping to find sympathy for having been married off to a violent man. She had bruises to prove it. The family members were more interested in saving its “honor” and continued to reject her. Her son, Cen, was born and they eventually moved out on their own. After many difficulties she finally received aid from the German authorities: living space, continued education, and financial support. Eventually she studied to be an electrician (with possibilities of getting a degree in electrical engineering), moved into her own apartment with Cen, took off her headscarf, cut her hair, and dated a German man. She had German friends who took her dancing at night. At the same time, she attempted to remain close to her family which pushed her away, calling her a “whore” or worse. Her brothers stalked her on the phone and in person. They seemed to be influenced by pressure from leaders in their local mosque, although this could not be proved later in court. Only one brother thought differently; he was studying law in Cologne and advised her to leave Berlin for safety reasons. In all, her martyrdom spread out over seven years, before she died at age 23.
Under the guidance of director Sherry Hormann, all of these facts, as well as many more, come to light in the film, in the voice of Aynur (Almila Bagriacki) telling her own story. In my showing the producer Sandra Maischberger, along with Amilia Bagriacki and Rauand Taleh (plays Nuri) and Aram Arami (plays older brother), were present to answer questions. There were about 50 viewers in my audience, and only about eight were male. No one was wearing a religious headscarf. This team was scheduled to visit four Hamburg cinemas on this one day. The audience was definitely moved by this experience, not necessarily to leave depressed, but all felt a need to rise to the problem. How can we help? Three members of Terre des Femmes monitored a table full of helpful pamphlets about the rights of women in Germany including “…it is prohibited to force someone to marry. It is a punishable offence.” This must-see film, which premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, will soon begin showing in German schools, accompanied by opportunities to discuss in class. (Becky Tan)