»Everybody should be able to live with his partner where she or he wishes.« (Nur)

With Halil Aksan*Hayriye Aktaş*Zelal Çetin*Naime Doğan*Ayşe Esen*Nur Gezegen*Soner Odabaş*Ibrahim Yanar



The film 650 Words tells the story of eight people from different regions in Turkey—all of whom want nothing more than to be reunited with their loved ones in Germany. However, before they can start living together with their spouse they must first obtain the Goethe Certificate Start German 1 in their home country, which is a mandatory requirement to apply for a family visa. The language test requires an active vocabulary of 300 German words and a passive vocabulary of 650 words. If applicants fail the test, they are denied a visa. Whether one wants to go for a short while or for good, if one has family living in Germany already, if one struggles with literacy in their own mother tongue, or if a newlywed is waiting on the other side, no visa application can be submitted without the language exam. Sometimes, even if the test is passed successfully, such a visa application can still be rejected. 

In the film, those interviewed, Ayşe, Ibrahim, Nur, Soner, Hayriye, Halil, Zelal, and Naime, reflect on the language course as a journey they embark upon to join their husbands and wives in Germany. Some had to move to Istanbul from far away to have access to a language course. Some had to give up their jobs. Some had to learn to read and write. As these eight individuals reveal their personal lives, how they met their partners, and their dreams about living side by side with their families in Germany, future utopias are built, stories of loss are shared, and unique stories emerge that also trace a complicated relationship between two countries.

Martina Priessner

is a documentary filmmaker and author based in Istanbul and Berlin who has focused on German-Turkish migration for many years. In 2010, she completed her documentary Based Down South, which was nominated for the Grimme Award. In 2013, she accomplished the found footage film Everyday I’m Çapuling about the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. From 2008 to 2010, she was engaged at the post-migrant theater Ballhaus Naunynstraße in Berlin as a dramaturge and curator. During this time, she curated the theater course Kahvehane—Turkish Delight, German Fright? Anatolian Coffee Houses in Kreuzberg and Neukölln.  She has received scholarships from NIPKOW, DEFA Stiftung, and Kulturakademie Tarabya. As a 2014/15 IPC-Mercator-Fellow she realized the documentary 650 Words, which deals with the connection between language and migration.

Director & Editor: Martina Priessner
Camera: Franz von Bodelschwing
Sound: Kaan Karacehennem
Sound Design & Mix: Robert F. Kellner vdt
Animation: Eyüp Zana Ekinci
DI: Stefan Kleeberger
Videoclips Germany: Nur Gezegen
Translation: Tunçay Kulaoğlu
Transcription: Mustafa Demir

This documentary was realized through the Mercator-IPC Fellowship Program.
Mercator-IPC Fellowship Program is a part of the Istanbul Policy Center-Sabanci University-Stiftung Mercator Initiative. For more information, see link: ipc.sabanciuniv.edu/en