The fight for her son begins on October 3, 2001. Rabiye Kurnaz vigorously knocks on her son’s door in her Bremen apartment building. “Murat! It is already noon,” says the mother. “Murat, get up, I’ll cut your beard. Murat, cut that shit!”
But her son is long gone. Director Andreas Dresen is known for finding an unusual approach to stories. He manages to do the same in his new film.
From the mother’s point of view
For a long time Dreseni thought about how he could tell the story of Murat Kurnazi. The story of a man who grew up in Germany as a Turkish citizen and was eventually held in the US prison camp at Guantanamo in Cuba for years. Finally, he has decided on an interesting angle – focusing on Murat’s mother.
The film shows her as a smart woman with a bleached perm. Rabiye Kurnaz rushes through the city in her Mercedes, tries to get to the gym and cleans the apple pie with powdered sugar. She is played by comedian Meltem Kaptan (“Ladies’ Night”), who lives in Cologne and can be seen in her first starring role in a German cinema film.
Full of energy, with charm, devilishness and ingenuity, she paints the portrait of a woman who fights to the point of exhaustion for her child. At the Berlinale, Captain won a Silver Bear for her acting performance. He was also rewarded for his screenplay by Laila Stieler – Dresen had worked with him on his previous film “Gundermann”.
Dresen’s film has become surprisingly light and warm, without neglecting the difficult moments. Unlike other movies, it does not show the horrors of Guantanamo in the country, but allows you to sympathize through a diversion. Finally, the mother goes to the US Supreme Court to release her son. Hence the title of the film: “Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush”.
She is accompanied by attorney Bernhard Docke. He is played by Alexander Scheer, who also had the lead role in the portrait of Dresen singer-songwriter “Gundermann”. In the new film there are heartfelt scenes between the somewhat rigid lawyer with the mustache and the lively mother who brings food and closes a talisman in Docke’s office without being asked.
Murat Kurnaz was a Guantanamo detainee from 2002 to 2006. The film gradually reveals the legal battle for his release and the political implications. Dresen tells about him with sensitivity and with scenes so funny that suddenly there is a lot to laugh about in the cinema. When the family manages to pick up the boy after his release, he wants to go out for a moment. He wants to be alone for a moment. “I understand,” says his mother, “I will come with you.”
Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush, Germany / France 2022, 119 min., KSF 6 years, by Andreas Dresen, with Meltem Kaptan, Alexander Scheer, Charly Hübner and Nazmi Kirik. (dpa)