New in cinemas – Get Out of Guantánamo: A Missionary Mother – Culture


What to do if your own son ends up in Guantánamo on suspicion of terrorism? “Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush” shows it.

He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Turk Murat Kurnaz, who lives in Bremen, was in Pakistan shortly after September 11, 2001. What happened then only becomes clear later.

Did he turn to radical Islam? Perhaps. In any case, he ended up in Guantánamo, classified as an “enemy combatant”. Without a procedure. With no evidence of terrorist activity. Without a presumption of innocence. A whopping five years.

The Murat Kurnaz case stands for many things: for the undermining of fundamental rights, for media prejudice, for a failure not only in US politics, but also in German politics.

That’s enough material for a director like Andreas Dresen (“When we dreamed”). He wanted to film it, but at first he didn’t know how: “30 minutes of torture – who wants to watch something like that?”

The general public in view

This answer also resonates: Dresen makes films for the public. Socially engaged films, but easily accessible audience films. A radical accusation of the system doesn’t interest him if it isn’t linked to a strong story for which as many people as possible buy a movie ticket.


No children’s birthday: How do you get through it when your son is in Guantanamo?


Dresen and his screenwriter Laila Stieler found the solution with an ingenious change of perspective: the film does not tell the story of Murat, but that of his mother.

How her son disappears one day and how she then pulls out all the stops together with a human rights lawyer to get him out of this detention. How she doesn’t stop at Washington herself.

Impulsive and persistent

“Get off my snowdrops,” says Rabiye Kurnaz (Meltem Kaptan) to the press, who unexpectedly appear in front of her apartment door because “a Taliban is supposed to live here.”

She didn’t fall flat. She’s impulsive, highly emotional, humorous, grounded and she’s, sorry, damn persistent. She is the force that makes you want to see this film through.

A man and a woman in an open carriage.


Was awarded best actress at the Berlinale: Meltem Kaptan as Murat’s mother.


One could accuse Stieler and Dresen of pimping the plot with entertainment value too carelessly in some places. The “David vs. Goliath” principle is unequivocally played out, with the good guys on the bottom and the bad guys on the top. The film tells of years of fighting the authorities in erratic, chronologically arranged episodes.

Arouse compassion with numbers

Andreas Dresen uses a trick: “We always show how many days have passed since Rabiye has not seen her son. A big number that keeps getting bigger. You can feel their suffering and longing.”

This year’s Berlinale jury saw how well this storytelling works: they awarded Laila Stieler a Silver Bear for her screenplay. And she honored Meltem Kaptan for Best Actress.

And rightly so: Kaptan fills her slightly naively drawn character with so much power and life that the audience doesn’t want to leave her side.

Until she achieves what she asks for: her son. in her arms.