Your Beauty is Worth Nothing...
by Domenico La Porta
03/07/2012 - Your Beauty is Worth Nothing... (Deine Schönheit ist nichts wert...) is the moving tale of immigrants trying to integrate, as seen and lived by a child. The film has made its international premiere in the competition at the 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Veysel is only 12 when his parents — a Turkish mother and a father who was a Kurdish fighter —, his older brother, and he are granted political asylum in Austria. Veysel does not understand the language his classmates speak at school, and at home his family is in crisis as all members seem unable to understand each other. But in his own world, Veysel loves Ana. He is shy and, trapped in his difference, does not dare to approach her, but he dreams of her and watches her from a distance. When he is told to memorise and recite a poem in German for school, he asks his neighbour to help him learn it so that he can dedicate it to his first love. He chooses the translation of a song from his home country, a text that holds great significance for his family, and that may be the instrument of a family reconciliation and the promise of an acceptable future for those he holds dear.
The son of Kurdish immigrants himself, German filmmaker Hüseyin Tabak knows his subject well and unravels his sentimental narrative with great mastery. In a beautiful opening scene, Veysel dreams of an idyllic first meeting with Ana before the audience is progressively introduced to the harsh reality of the daily life of a child on whom everyone will pin their hopes for a better life. If Veysel’s school marks are good, the family will be able to stay in Austria. If he can master communication in German, his family will at last be able to reconcile itself with life and tend to its past wounds, and he will be able to open himself up to the world. But he will have to experience disenchantment to attain this gleam of hope, as shown through the repeated combination of imaginary sequences with shots of his real life throughout the film. It's a sort of initiatory ritual that will make Veysel the kind of man who will forever remember the pain of his first heartbreak. This feature debut recounts this initiatory journey, while also addressing the themes of integration, of course, but also imagination, the struggle for identity, the role of a man in a family (a man capable of crying), the power of art (symbolised by a popular song that is the film’s Holy Grail), and the importance of communication, whether or not it is verbal.
Young actor Abdulkadir Tuncer gives a remarkable performance as Veysel. It is simultaneously moving, sad, and wonderful, which gives the film’s mise-en-scene sentimental credibility. But Hüseyin Tabak follows in the footsteps of others. He studied Michael Haneke and Peter Patzak at the Vienna Arts Academy and trained on the set of over 20 features before directing about 12 short films, including Cheeese... (2008) that won awards all over the world. Your Beauty is Worth Nothing... is his final year project and probably the beginning of a great career.
(Translated from French)