Leila, a young singer of Middle Eastern descends in her late twenties, is a British-Londoner lady through and through; she is managed by her friend and artist-agency owner Linda. On a chilly, yet sunny October day Leila is on her way to Heathrow airport to fly over to Germany since she is booked for a gig in Frankfurt. Once arrived there she encounters Samir, a middle aged Frankfurt Taxi driver, who himself is of Middle Eastern descends as Leila is.
On the ride to the hotel, which is located a bit outside of Frankfurt, both Leila and Samir learn of each other’s common background, yet they stick to English in their chat instead of speaking in Arabic their “mother tongue”; Leila with her fine British-English and Samir with his school English and a German accent. In their seemingly banal conversation they tackle some stereotypes and cultural perceptions of all three cultures: The German, the English and the Arabic.
Samir is attracted to Leila and lets her notice his affinity by his impish talk, contrary to Leila, who sees in Samir just a nice cab driver. Samir drops Leila off at the final destination and thrust his business card in Leila’s hand offering his services as a driver. Leila bids a farewell to Samir and heads to the hotel entrance; she throws away the business card in a paper bin on her way to the counter.
While checking in Leila witnesses a discrimination situation against an elderly man who seems to have a similar background as her’s. After shifting uneasily in her room she realizes that she has thrown away the business card. Leila runs down to the lobby and fishes the card out of the bin.
Samir, while he drives on the highway, receives the unexpected yet awaited phone call from Leila asking him to pick her up for a ride. He drives to the hotel and meets Leila, who has been waiting in front of the Hotel. She gets into the cap and they drive away towards Frankfurt having a chat in broken Arabic and listing to Dalida’s Song “Baladi”.
Cultural identity is a crucial component of our self-understanding. It is an important-if not the most important- aspect that makes individuals affiliate themselves to a particular community, society or country. Culture briefly means a collective set of mind based upon moral codes, social ideologies and religious traditions inherited over the centuries that characterize a people in its way of life, social behavior, customs, habits, food, its self-understanding, etc. and the perception of other societies and people. Crucial in the definition is the “collectivity”. If an individual fits the physiognomies of a particular culture, then she/he belongs to it.
Nevertheless, in a contemporary “multicultural” society or more precisely in a “modern” society that distinguishes itself as being “multicultural”, tendencies of cultural superiority over “subcultures” are growing. The reason for that might be the concept of globalization that is being perceived as a threat to domestic cultures. Another reason is more likely the growth of religious fundamentalism that has culminated in religious wars. This fundamentalism is affecting in a way or another, directly or indirectly almost every individual globally; the reason for this phenomenon is for the experts to explore.
Timeout is a contribution to an ongoing debate about the "Integration" of minorities with a different cultural or ethnic background in German society especially but also in Europe as a whole. The film is not concerned in the immigrant who’s arrived to Europe recently or came decades ago and is neither yet in command of the language nor in conformity with the domestic culture. Timeout is rather concerned in and dedicated to citizens who meanwhile are in the second, third and even in the fourth generation of immigrant families, who identify as being part of their society they grew up in and yet are still fighting for recognition.
It is Important to understand that identity is a combination of genetic predisposition to a degree but largely of external influences, therefore it is not fixed. Identity is rather shiftable and elastic which accommodates to one’s self-understanding that can change by adjusting to particular vivid situations in life. Individuals who are exposed to more than one culture are more likely the ones who are able to shift identity as a mechanism of survival. It is not necessarily supporting for integration policies of immigrants or for the assimilation process of individuals, if those are being reminded on a daily basis that they stem from a different culture and that they do not really belong. As a result those affected individuals and citizens might encapsulate and cut themselves off society, to either spare themselves the permanent feeling of being rejected or in some cases even as an act of defiance.
Our protagonist Leila, who does not lack self-knowledge at all, undergoes this experience of shifting trough her journey from London to Frankfurt. Leila identifies as a British girl through and through, which shall come across in her conversation with Samir the Frankfurt cap driver in the taxi ride. She might not have any issues in her comfort zone back home in London, but when she is far away from home and feels alien to the new territory, she feels that she might need a “cultural ally” of her own background and heritage.
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