Geboren in Absurdistan (1999)

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It all begins with a mistake, an error with serious consequences: in a hospital the new-born babies of an Austrian couple and a Turkish family of immigrant workers are mixed up and go home ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Stefan Strohmayer
Julia Stemberger ...
Marion Strohmayer
Ahmet Ugurlu ...
Emre Dönmez
Emine Dönmez
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wolfgang Böck ...
Herr Fuhrmann
Metin Celiker ...
Erdem Ergin ...
Mustafas Nephew
Franz Friedrich ...
Ministerialrat Hoffmann
Josef Hader ...
Burhan Ince ...
Cengiz Keskinkilic ...
Petra Marjam ...
Schwester Regina
Edith Nordegg ...
Frau Hoffmann
Anna K. Pretterebner ...
Hayri Dönmez (newborn)


It all begins with a mistake, an error with serious consequences: in a hospital the new-born babies of an Austrian couple and a Turkish family of immigrant workers are mixed up and go home with the wrong parents. By the time the mistake comes to light, it emerges that the Turkish family, including the baby, has been deported. The despairing Austrian couple begins a confusing odyssey through Turkey in order to track down the unsuspecting family to their native village. But they are not at all convinced that the babies have been mixed up. It is decided that the only way to know for sure is to have a blood test done. It is decided that the blood work is done in Vienna due to the better medical resources, but that will be far from simple. It will involve an illegal smuggling of the Turks across the Austrian border. Written by RP

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

November 1999 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Abszurdisztán szülötte  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

A one-sided, unfair movie which lacks objectivity
3 October 2002 | by (Asia) – See all my reviews

Contains Spoilers Greetings!

I would like to share and bring some points to your attention with regards to the film from Austria titled 'Absurdistan' being shown at CINE 5 Europe Film Festival in Manila, Philippines.

I understand that 10 movies shown during the festival are from member countries of the European Union and it aims to foster cultural relations between Europe and Asia while promoting member countries' film industry abroad.

When I saw the pamphlet that provided a glimpse at the movies, I got more curious in 'Absurdistan' because it involved a Turkish couple. Thinking the film would provide a clue as to the portrayal of the Turkish population in Europe, I grabbed the opportunity and watched it with my colleague who is also a foreign journalist.

The story revolved around the two couples whose babies got switched at an hospital in Austria. Some time later the Austrian couple is informed that the baby they are holding is actually not theirs and was switched. The couple then takes an adventurous journey to Turkey by road to meet and exchange babies with the Turkish couple who was indeed 'deported' from Austria because of missing an immigration deadline for a few days.

Here, I would like to enumerate some disturbing points in 'Absurdistan':

1. The movie is from Austria and I would expect an artistic film directed by an Austrian director so that as viewers and members of media, we could have clues as to the present situation of Austrian film industry and latest developments in Austria. However, 'Absurdistan' was directed by Psychiatrist and filmmaker Houchang Allahyari who was born in Tehran in 1941 and has been a resident in Vienna for more than two decades.

2. What does 'Absurdistan' mean or imply? To whom does it refer? Since this word ends with (istan), it must refer to a place or location. Do they mean Austria? Or Turkey? Do they want to tell the viewers that Turkey is a place full of absurdity or the land of the absurds? And what is the relation of this title with the movie? Isn't it an insult to a whole nation?

3. If we are to take the stand of a movie critic, there were many inconsistencies which would be easily noticed by plain viewers. To wit: When the Austrian couple is already in Turkey and in the city where the Turkish couple's village was located, their Mercedes Benz car is hit from behind by another van. As the camera showed it from a high point, the van hit the MB at rear LEFT and the rear left side of the MB must have been damaged. However, when the couple later on takes a break and pulls over, we see that the damage is on the rear RIGHT of the car and the RIGHT taillight is broken!

4. Another inconsistency is when the couple arrives in the village, their Mercedes overheats and water steam comes out of the hood. The wife with the baby and the husband get off the car and the wife who has been at the wheel locks the car with the remote control. We see the signal lights blink as it is the case with most remote locks. However, moments later, 'Mustafa' who was named to be the mayor of the town gets in and steers it to his workshop while the kids push the car from behind. Once the car is fixed, Mustafa is shown driving around in the MB and even bringing it to the tea house. How could he get the keys immediately after the car got overheated without even meeting the couple? Or maybe he did have spare keys?

5. Towards the end of the movie, there was a big editing no-no. When the two couples were invited to a TV talk show, parts of the conversation was repeated twice at three points.

6. As the director is of Iran descent, the background music of the movie was Persian as indicated at the end of the film. If I am not mistaken one song was titled 'Persian Nights'. If it is an Austrian movie and Turkish immigrants are part of the plot what is the point in inserting Persian songs? One song from a popular Turkish singer 'Tarkan' was also played but itwas so insignificant. I can't help but ask why couldn't the producers find any song other than Persian nights.

7. Starting from the beginning until the end, presentation of both countries and peoples was always one-sided and unfair. Austria had modern buildings and historic structures with fast-moving traffic and people joyfully spending time at parks surrounded by colurful flowers. On the other hand Turks were 'immigrant pests' in Austria who did manual jobs and belonged to the lowest ranks of the society.

8. To continue with this one-sided or narrow angle presentation: Austria was a modern country but Turkey was shown as a place where the only transportation is done by mule-ridden carts and where garbage is strewn all over the streets and no structures but all squatter-type residences.

9. I cannot again help but ask: When the Austrian couple rode their Mercedes from Vienna to Turkey, they were shown exiting at Austria Immigration but not shown when entering Turkish land at the border in the city of Edirne. Any car coming from Europe by land has to pass through Edirne and Istanbul in order to reach other parts of the country.

10. Why was the couple never shown crusing through the wide and modern highways of Istanbul? Or passing through Bosphorus Bridge which connects two continents? Why no historical monument, mosque, church, edifice or watsoever was never given a chance to appear in the movie?

11. Why did the producers insist to make Turkey appear like a place which has got no big modern city, is composed of only one small town where mules and horses are used for transportation and has no concrete/asphalt road but roads filled with dust and garbage?

12. When the couple reached that impoverished town just after exiting Austria (as if that town and Austria are neighbors), why on earth did the wife had the Mercedes stopped in the middle of the road on that spot and ran away with the baby? The camera from a high angle showed that the town had no concrete road, the roadside was full of garbage cans and the town was saturated with squatter houses where sewage water freely ran through the streets. What was the rationale behind portraying Turkey this way? Could they not find any other more convenient site to let the wife stop and run out of the car?

13. Probably, the producers wished to present a comparison of Turkey and Austria in this shot: When the couple nears the village where the Turkish wife and husband live, a villager and his son in an animal-drawn cart leads the way. The transportation for the Turks is by animals while for foreigners it is a Mercedes Benz (MB)! The MB is then shown from a far shot following the animal-ridden carriage past through the fields and bumpy narrow paths at less than 10 kms per hour!

14. Why did Mustafa was introduced as 'mayor'? It was a very remote and small village and villages do not have mayors! He was only a 'muhtar' which has no direct translation to English. 'Muhtar' is a title given to the elected head of a village or neighbourhood within a town or city. Or did the producers intend to send a subtle message that the cities in Turkey all look this way and Mustafa is the mayors' personification?

15. As would be corroborated by any Turkish citizen, the villagers and farmers are very much industrious people and spend most of their time in fields and homes. They congregate at common and unique 'tea houses' to relax and socialize. However, the movie Absurdistan presented the villagers as people who never work but spend all their time at these tea houses chatting, back-biting, smoking, gambling and drinking. Did the movie subtly imply that the place which 'Absurdistan' referred to was this village and the 'absurd' people were those villagers?

16. There are many considerations a production team takes in selecting and agreeing with the cast in a movie. The Turkish actor 'Ahmet Ugurlu' was the producers' choice. I congratulate him and his wife in the movie 'Meltem Cumbul' with their smooth-flowing and understandable German. But the looks of Mr. Ugurlu did not really match with a common Turkish man's looks. Although it may be his own preference, he could have been asked to at least shave and wear a descent look since he represents the Turkish men in general. Foreign viewers now think that Turkish men all look alike and never shave. The contrast was very obvious with the Austrian husband: well-shaved and clean-looking office man who is also so gentle.

17. The English subtitles of the German conversation of the movie was tolerable with regards to the message, grammar and continuity. But in the case of the Turkish conversation, English subtitles were very much insufficient and could not relay the cultural message hidden in the conversation. English subtitles lagged far behind.

18. These are just some of the points that popped up in my mind just after watching the movie and what I could write in one sitting. The list can be very long but I only wanted to bring these to the attention of proper authorities and ask them to please take action.

19. Film Festival is a cultural event and is organized with the mere mission of promoting and interacting cultures BUT NOT at the expense of others. Austria deserves a long applause but not with this 'Absurdistan' which degrades one whole nation and people in the name of art and cinema.

20. We wish future movie and all other kinds of artistic projects will present all cultures and nations fairly and objectively and will not hype one while pulling the other down.

Thank You.

R.S. Foreign Journalist

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