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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Stemberger ...
Marion Strohmayer
Stefan Strohmayer
Emine Dönmez
Ahmet Ugurlu ...
Emre Dönmez
Josef Hader ...
Karoline Zeisler ...
Schwester Siglinde
Petra Marjam ...
Schwester Regina
Franz Friedrich ...
Ministerialrat Hoffmann
Edith Nordegg ...
Frau Hoffmann
Maximilian Pretterebner ...
Karli Strohmayer (Neugeboren)
Philipp Schwab ...
Karli Strohmayer (5 Monate)
Anna-Katharina Pretterebner ...
Hayri Dönmez (Neugeboren)
Sebastian Schubert ...
Hayri Dönmez (5 Monate)
Metin Celiker ...
Emre's Mutter


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:

Born in Absurdistan  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

What is Parental Love? When does a place become your nation? *spoiler*
15 October 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The movie begs the question what makes someone your child? How far would you go for a child you "know" is "yours"? Can people co-parent a child or must it be the legal possession of the genetic parent? As an undercurrent it examines, "what is nationhood?" and "how can we reconcile responsibilities of a nation with that of responsibilities of humanity?"

That's not to say it's a heavy movie. Some call it a dark comedy. I wouldn't go that far. It is a broad comedy mixed with nail-biting drama.

It is rather a fish out of water story that can be examined and enjoyed on a few levels. It is mixed with political commentary for the viewer to assess who are the heroes.

Personally I rather liked the echo effect of the news being broadcast and retold in many homes. Risky for the director but rather poetic.

I'm sorry to hear the other reviewer found the portrayal of Turkey to be inflammatory and hurtful. I think the world at large is well aware of Turkey as a diverse country, modern, cosmopolitan in places, just as Austria and every other nation has rural areas and urban area.

Like the extremes of urban life to village life, Austrian life to Turkish life, the gender roles were hyperbole. A lot of the humor comes from the over-the-top parodies of men "responding with testosterone" while their women bond peaceably. For something billed as a drama, I was surprised at how much it made us laugh. (But then I laughed at Fahrenheit 9/11 and found the bias manipulation funny too.)

I respected that what could have become a narrow story of how the Austrian couple and Turkish couple became buddies and take on the world, the very real background tension of prejudice was not glossed over. It is thrown in periodically with care. The message of the movie is not to promote these notions as much as to examine them and take one case and say do the notions publicly held of refugees hold true?

It throws into contrast the reality of the risks the Austrian couple were taking and how far they moved across their prejudices to become friends and companions of the Turkish couple. The Turkish couple we got to know as lead roles were as intelligent, as educated, well respected at work.

Absurdistan seems an appropriate title for three reasons: Navigating the bureaucrats and political hoops in any country is remarkably similar. Even simple straightforward things seems to be reduced to ridiculous levels of pulling rank and currying favor. Secondly is also a fitting title for a comedy film of people who realize they are caught between what it is intuitively right and what bureaucracy says they must feel, be or do, both as as "citizens", as "the other", as the "father" or "mother". Thirdly, just when you think nothing else can go wrong or be botched up, more goes wrong(!) and the plot twists again.

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