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Isaach De Bankolé,
The true story of Otomo, a Black man seeking work and asylum in the German city of Stuttgart. However, all he finds is racism, police trouble and his final destiny. His one-day journey leads him to a run-down temporary employment agency where he is being rejected because he doesn't own an ID and proper shoes. Downcast he continues his purposeless trip. In a streetcar he encounters a racist trolley controller who wrongfully accuses him of having an invalid ticket. As the situation escalates, Otomo head-butts the controller and flees. With the police on his heels, Otomo decides to leave the country. He runs into a truck driver who is inclined to take Otomo to the Netherlands if he pays him 400 Deutsche Mark in advance - a load of money he doesn't have. His need of money leads to desperate measures, but also to a new love. However, Otomo's bloody final encounter with the police is not too far away. Written by
As someone who is familiar with both Turkish and German cinema, I am quite familiar with films about the immigrant experience in Germany. To the German film industry's credit, more films of this nature seem to be made in Germany than they are here in the states. And, not all the films about this experience are negative as Turkish-German director's Fatih Akin's film "In July" is a sterling example of this. But, many films about the dark side have been made by both Turkish and German directors. R.W. Fassbinder's "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" about a Morrocon immigrant and the humorous, but socially relevant film "Polizei" by Serif Goren, the field director for Yilmaz Guney's film "Yol" illustrate the problems quite well. Though "Otomo" is not quite as brilliant as those two films, it does capture what problems can arise when a man, particularly a man of color, comes into a foreign land. The dual problem is the fact that the man may be oblivious to the new country's problems- in Germany's case, the growing pains of reunification, and the adopted country is unaware of what the immigrant dealt with in his homeland. The lead actor here is quite exceptional, and really carries the film. There is a scene where he gives a young girl a flower which reminds one of Boris Karloff in a similar scene from "Frankenstein." The film is also similar to John Sayles' "Brother From Another Planet" arguably one of the best contemporary films from a white director about racism in this country. In short, "Otomo" is a universal film and anyone who knows a recent Middle Eastern immigrant in the states knows how chillingly real the events that happened in this film can occure. And, since "Otomo" is based on a true story that is a disturbing thought.
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