2 user 5 critic

Fremder Freund (2003)

2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Fatih Alas ...
Ercan Durmaz ...
Assistent des Imam
Elmar Fischer ...
Mitbewohner von Abdel
Mavie Hörbiger ...
Wolfgang Liese ...
Alter Mann auf Strasse
Yunes (as Navíd Akhavan)
Judith Rauschtenberger ...
Ann Vielhaben ...
Patrick von Blume ...
Junger Mann auf Strasse


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Wir waren Freunde. Waren wir das? (We were friends. Were we?)







Release Date:

11 December 2003 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Az ismeretlen barát  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€80,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The actors had only a rough idea of what to do in each scene; dialogue is ad-libbed throughout the film. See more »

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User Reviews

Splendid story of a friendship that evaporates just before 9/11
25 December 2005 | by (Portland, Oregon, United States) – See all my reviews

This new film from Germany is the third to be released this autumn on the theme of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, following the U.S. production, "The War Within," and the Dutch-Palestinian film, "Paradise Now." Each of these films is distinctive and noteworthy; as a group, they complement each other quite neatly.

All three films focus on a relationship between two men, who are close friends. In "War Within" they are lifelong chums from Pakistan who reunite in New Jersey, where one is settled, assimilated, and highly pro-American, while the other has been sent on a mission to blow up public places. In "Paradise Now" the friends are West Bank Palestinians who commit to becoming suicide bombers against Israel.

In "Friend" - the German title is better: it translates as The Foreign Friend - Chris (Antonio Wannek), a young Berliner, takes in a new apartment mate, Yunes (Navid Akhavan), a Yemeni national. Much of the film is an exploration of the deepening friendship these two share over about three years, leading up to 9/11. Using flashbacks and flash forwards, we follow this pair, sharing in the ups and downs of their love lives, parties, games, pranks, arguments and other happenings. Most noteworthy is the growing bond of affection between these two.

Beginning about 18 months before 9/11, Yunes starts to change. He joins a local study group of Islamists, grows a beard, begins to pray, and becomes prone to unpredictable mood swings – mellow and fun loving one minute, as he was in the past, fiercely irritable the next, rejecting his old ways and treating his girlfriend Nora (Mavie Hörbiger) and Chris shabbily. At one point he goes to Pakistan for several weeks for some sort of special study program, but he seems, if anything, more his old self upon returning to Berlin.

And then, the day before 9/11, Yunes just up and disappears, leaving no word of explanation, no trace at all really. Chris, Nora and Chris's girlfriend Julia (Mina Tander) are perplexed. They search for him to no avail. Chris goes to the place where the Islamist group had met and finds a sign on the locked door announcing that the group has disbanded effective September 10, 2001.

Chris begins to think the unthinkable, that somehow Yunes's disappearance is linked to the terrorist events of 9/11 in the U.S., although Chris and the others find this almost impossible to accept. They are shocked, bewildered, almost unable to reconcile the lovable Yunes they knew with the the horrid events in America. After all, they attempt to rationalize, the German-based individuals already linked to 9/11 were in Hamburg, not Berlin. Still, Yunes never reemerges and the most extreme explanation inevitably seems to be the correct one.

Elmar Fischer makes a successful debut as director in this well controlled, very well acted, coherent story, which Fischer also co-wrote. The film works splendidly on two levels. It is an especially fine narrative about friendship. And at the same time, more in oblique strokes than the head on depictions of terrorists in "War Within" and "Paradise Now," we see Yunes's radicalization take place.

The film is an excellent showcase for its promising new director and several young, talented actors, including Faith Alas as Yunes's drug abusing sidekick, Raid. Mr. Akhavan, a native of Iran, is especially good. (In German) My rating 8.5/10 (A-). (Seen on 12/11/05). If you'd like to read more of my reviews, send me a message for directions to my websites.

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