Sometimes in the thick of our troubles we are blinded to those of others.
Irritable clean freak, Nuremberger taxi driver Hartmut Mackowiak, played by Elmar Wepper (a well-known television actor in Germany) is engrossed in a crisis. His wife, Christa (Katja Rupé), of 30+ years is leaving him for a “Volvo driver” with better clothes.
Hartmut starts work each day with the same chip on his shoulder and prejudiced views of immigrants in Germany. But one day his life changes in ways he could never have anticipated. A single mother and Turkish cruise ship entertainer (Ivan Anderson) comes to Nuremberg to leave her precocious daughter, Hayat Yılmaz (Mercan Türkoğlu), in her mother’s care until her stint is up and she returns to land. Hartmut’s hateful diatribe on foreigners, while driving them from the airport, leads Hayat’s mother to call him a “Nazi” under her breath. Hayat never forgets the word (and has no idea what it means), as she is learning German for the first time. After delivering the mother and daughter to the grandmother’s home, in what Hartmut calls “Gostanbul” (as in the neighborhood is basically Turkey within Germany) he departs thinking he’ll never have to encounter them again.
Hayat’s mother is off to her cruise ship gig and the grandmother resumes caring for Hayat in her mothers absence. One morning the grandmother collapses, leaving Hayat to find help (in minimal German) and fend for herself. The only person she remembers is ”the Nazi”, Hartmut. She spots him, randomly, outside the hospital her grandmother has been taken to. And welcomes herself to the backseat, only to find Hartmut is not amused and thought he had rid of her. She feigns sleep to avoid leaving the taxi. Hayat is head strong and aware, but going through her own crisis as a child in a new place without family and confusions about her own identity. Hartmut and Hayat have more in common than first meets the eye.
Anti-social Hartmut has no use of a small child and certainly no use for a Turkish girl in his life, he searches through the phonebook of the grandmother hoping to find someone he can dump her off to. His efforts are rebuffed except for her father, whom Hartmut cajoles to take her in, at least to know her father. As the days go on, and the grandmother in a coma, Hayat asks questions about life and death, and in turn encourages a new found self-reflection in Hartmut. Hayat becomes more endearing with each scene. The fort she builds under the sink to sleep, her attempt to show Hartmut how to eat sunflower seeds the Turkish way, and the off-beat ways she views the world are refreshing in a world of canned responses and inauthentic debates about shallow matters.
DREIVIERTELMOND is many stories in one, sometimes competing for the audiences attention: Hartmut’s seperation from his wife, Hartmut’s daughter’s new café that serves coffee next to shoes, and then Hayat’s growing pains, her grandmother in a coma and the absence of her German father in her life.
DREIVIERTELMOND (Three Quarters Moon), is named so because of the place in the middle that Hayat inhabits. Like the moon, Hayat rose in the ‘east’ and set in the ‘west’.
Mercan Türkoğlu, the 6-year-old German Turkish girl who plays Hayat, (and “knows German better than Turkish”) , is a first time actress that was “the daughter of a friend of a friend,” says the films director and co-writer, Christoper Zübert.
Her naïveté to film is at times apparent but there is a simplistic and very real way Mercan connects to Hayat. Due to her newness to screen, Zübert kept it simple and often used hand held cameras to capture the growing bond between Hartmut and Hayat. Much of the film plays out in the taxi cab Hartmut drives. Despite the crisis they both are experiencing, there are comedic moments that lighten the load of the films premise.
It’s not certain if Zübert has ever seen the Czech film KOLYA but DREIVIERTELMOND is almost a copycat. And many critics have said and will say that the idea of a grumpy old man turned caretaker to a precocious and confused young child is not a new idea in cinema.
DREIVIERTELMOND (Three Quarters Moon) is director and writer Christian Zübert’s fifth feature film. The concept was a creation between him and his Turkish wife, Ipek. It speaks to the connections and similarities, beyond differences, that exist in friendship and love. The location is integral as Germany is home to more than 5 million citizens of Turkish descent, many who are the children and grandchildren of guest workers that were invited to the country in the 1960s. Berlin is often said to be the largest Turkish city behind Istanbul. But above all else the film is about old meeting new, and the roots of our humanity that we all share, regardless of our age — coming of age and revival.