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(Tanz mit mir)

On the set of "Tanz mit mir" (photo courtesy of Doendue Kilic)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2007

Among insiders, Istanbul enjoys the reputation as the gay Mecca of Europe. Tanz mit mir’s protagonists come from all levels and ethnic groups of Turkish society and show us, in a very personal and revealing way, their contacts and conflicts with the state, military, society, their family and themselves.

Tanz mit mir’s multi-hyphenate, Doendue Kilic was born in the south-east of Turkey in 1976 and came to Germany, aged four, when her family settled in Bonn. “My grandparents were farmers,” Kilic explains, “but my father studied. Where I was born, the usual thing was for men to study and women to get married. But my father let us all study. We had to!”

After graduating from high school Kilic worked in the theater and came to Berlin with the aim of furthering her career. But Berlin being Berlin … “I became politically active,” she says, modestly adding, “I wanted to start the world revolution!” Well, who doesn’t? But in 2002 she put away her red flags and began to study at the city’s renowned dffb film school.

And now the killer question, why this film? Kilic laughs. “My protagonists also asked me why a heterosexual woman would want to make this film! I hoped to get to know the country and people, to make a connection with my so-called “Homeland”. I have a very European view, with sometimes very European prejudices. My family lives in the European part of Istanbul. It’s modern. Initially, I wanted to highlight what I thought was the bad situation of the poor Turks. Instead, they helped me deal with my prejudices. I learned that Turkey has everything. There is a chaos there that lets everything happen, far more than often in our democratic West.”

For example, Kilic cites that the first lesbian marriage took place in a Turkish village in the early 80s. At the same time, she doesn’t exclude the extremes, which range from total acceptance – such as some transvestites who are feted as film stars or singers, and thus protected – to extreme violence.

In the past, during the Ottoman Empire, it was fashionable for a man in upper circles to be seen in public with young men and boys. “They were sexual objects and proud of it,” Kilic continues. “Most of them became transsexuals, which was seen as desirable. Many men have their first sexual experience with transsexuals. There is a huge, huge, huge scene! It’s comparable with Thailand!”

Just as in the West, there is a gay elite in Turkey (artists, musicians, actors, etc.) which, says Kilic, “has a European lifestyle as we know it. But in the eastern part of the country, a man who is discovered to be a transvestite is raped by the village and forced to live as a woman. A homosexual without family support will be gang raped. Most end up in Istanbul, working as prostitutes. A son who comes out risks being rejected by his family. If I were gay my family would take it, but then worry about not having any grandkids! But a man in my neighboring village was murdered.”

Turkish law neither forbids nor permits homosexuality. Kilic says the religious authorities “say homosexuality is forbidden, but it is also forbidden to punish people for it – everyone is guilty!” But with every big city having its gay and lesbian associations, Turkey is, Kilic says, as on many things, “schizophrenic and split!”

Genre LGBT, Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2007
Director Doendue Kilic
Screenplay Doendue Kilic, Andreas Hug
Cinematography Vojtech Pokorny
Doendue Kilic, Vojtech Pokorny, Lale Özdönmez
Niclas Ramdohr
Cast Mehmet Tarhan, Bawer, Mustafa, Ayse, Kenan, Oener, Oeykue, Derya Koeroglu, Mert, Gueney
Producers Doendue Kilic, Hartmut Bitomsky, Anna de Paoli, in co-production with Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB), Filmproduktion Doendue Kilic/Berlin
Original Version
 Turkish, English, Flemish
Shooting Dates Istanbul, Bursa, Iskenderun, June - September 2006, July 2007
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from German Federal Film Board

World Sales (please contact)
Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin GmbH (DFFB)
Petra Palmer
German Film and Television Academy (DFFB)
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10785 Berlin/Germany
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