Sami, Joe and I


DIRECTOR: KARIN HEBERLEIN

CAST: ANJA GADA; RABEA LUTHI; JANA SEKULOVSKA

SWITZERLAND 2020; 94 MINUTES

Sami, Joe and I
Sami, Joe and I

REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR from RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 Sami, Joe and Leyla are 16-year-old girls from immigrant backgrounds (Kosovan, Afro-Caribbean and Turkish) living on a local estate in the German speaking part of Switzerland. They finish school with the exuberance of youth only to face a future with limited prospects. They navigate low expectations, adult constraints, menial jobs and, for Joe, a predatory boss. Each girl has her home-life burden to boot – Joe’s single mother struggles to make ends meet; Sami is kept under lock and key by an overprotective father and Leyla's mother has died - so it’s unsurprising they feel oppressed. But when they are together, they soar. They hang out together, gate crash clubs and defend each other all with a heavy dose of passion and noise. Unfortunately, their liveliness and societal constraints clash like cymbals. This is a carefully plotted film giving enough backstory for each character to show depth of experience. Filmed on location around a low-rise housing estate where immigrant communities reside, this is an insight into a different side of the well-healed Switzerland beloved by skiers and jet setters.


More importantly, the film captures the universal limitations and downright repression faced by teenage girls particularly from deprived backgrounds in a heartfelt and effective way. The key actors are equally winning, conveying the universal predicament of young women on the verge of being thwarted with an individual nuance to their roles.


The film finishes open ended and, whilst we wonder what life has in store for these spirited young women, we are at least sure they have each other for the moment.