Tour Abroad / Auslandstournee
Year of release: 2000
Directed by: Ayse Polat
Ayse Polat’s road movie cum coming-of-age film Tour Abroad, which has been compared to Central Station (Walter Salles, Brazil, 1998) and Kolya (Jan Sverak, Czech Republic, 1997) and Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders, 1974), sketches the development of a father-daughter relationship between an orphaned eleven-year-old girl and a would-be Turkish drag queen.
Zeki, a 42-year-old Turkish homosexual performer and singer who has been touring Europe for the past fifteen years, suddenly finds himself lumbered with Senay, the daughter of an ex-colleague of his, who died in an accident. Zeki tries to track down Senay's mother, a Turkish belly dancer, who abandoned her husband and baby daughter and whom Senay presumes dead. The quest for Senay's mother takes Zeki and Senay on an odyssey across a number of European cities, including Wuppertal, the most memorable location of Wenders’s Alice in the Cities, to Istanbul. But the encounter with Senay's mother does not culminate in a happy reunion. When laying eyes upon her daughter, she immediately runs away, unwilling to assume responsibility for her child. Senay, whom her father had deceived by telling her that her mother was dead, feels betrayed by him. Kneeling in front of a collection of colourfully illuminated cacti, presumably a present from her deceased father, she reproaches him for first having lied to her and then having deserted her through his death.
One last time she tenderly touches her treasured cacti collection and speaks to it as if it were her father, bidding farewell to it/him (and hands it over to a little orphaned girl in the hotel). Then she is ready to put the past — and her parents — behind her and embrace a new life together with Zeki, who has developed from a reluctant guardian into an affectionate foster father. The film's final scene shows Zeki and Senay getting into a taxi, driving off to the airport and back to Germany. One can only assume that Zeki, this camp bohemian, gay man, in all respects the very opposite of the Turkish patriarch, will stay with Senay for good.