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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review - The 727 Days without Karamo

Director: Anja Salomonowitz, Austria

Having a partner with the “wrong” nationality can lead to multiple complications. So what does that mean: wrong nationality? Does that sound racist? In this artistically stylized documentary Salomonowitz explores the difficulties that intercultural couples face when one of them decides to immigrate to Austria. So, just how easy is it to become an Austrian citizen? In her first interview we see a woman wearing yellow who is actually counting the days she and her two daughters have been separated from her husband Karamo. Salomonowitz wittingly uses the color yellow to symbolize a woman waiting for the return of her husband as though he has gone off to war.

In actuality, it is due to the strict immigrations laws which he was unable to fulfill while living in Austria. The core of this film dives into the intricate world of the Austrian immigration laws and shows how difficult it is to maintain the standard that they expect from the foreigner.

One American man describes how he has to make a living, go to German language school and isn’t even allowed to have or share a bank account with his wife. He explained if, for whatever reason they decided to divorce, he would receive none of the money he earned and would receive no rights to the children and would be expelled from the country immediately. He said that puts incredible pressure on the relationship not to mention he is never allowed to be the man of the family since he has to go through his wife in order to achieve anything.

The color yellow reappears over and over again like an emergency sign or reflecting on the past meaning of the Jewish yellow star, but Salomonowitz also expresses a light sense of humor showing yellow as hope, warmth, and sunshine. The series of interviews range through extremes such as the immigration agents showing up, unexpectedly, at your house asking for the immigrant, to a fashion designer who is not allowed to show his work outside Austria since he is not allowed to travel. It poignantly illustrated that all these couples had one thing in common, which was that they were not of the Caucasian race and therefore were treated with little or no respect. In the end the yellow color warned that falling in love with an Austrian proves that the grass is not greener on the other side. It certainly opened my eyes to how different the immigration laws are for each country and how there is often a double standard which we are completely unaware of since we are not confronted with it. (Shelly S.)

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