Studied German and theatre studies, but switched to the "Deutscher Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin" in '67. Founded the production company Kintoff ('71), from which he withdrew to found Cikon ('78). Draeger has several TV-films on his record, but worked mainly for the broadcast "Rappelkiste" (74-79) and then he directed the series "Neues aus Uhlenbusch".
In every large city there are numerous guest workers, in Ghent it is mainly Turks (5,500), and in various districts they form about 20% of the total population. The large number of children playing in the streets, often into the late hours, is striking. They usually form a close-knit group, where Flemish children find it difficult to gain a foothold. In the fairly important series of documentaries on the guest worker problem, the children are hardly mentioned, although they could form the link between their Turkish community and culture and the western industrial society. But often we see that they still find it difficult to make contact with the belgian children and do not study further than a technical school. The question is often asked whether integration is still possible, whether both population groups still want it. But how can it be otherwise? Can you just put a guest worker and a Belgian next to each other; what are they going to do? Talk, fight, turn their backs on each other? How do children react to this? METIN illustrates just such a case: a German girl, Anna, about six years old, seems to be unaware of all these problems. She comes to live in a flat in Berlin with her mother. She has no contact with Berlin children when Metin passes by. Fairly quickly, despite an immediate language and communication problem, they become friends. The starting point of a far from moralising or pedantic film.
METIN is set in the Kreuzberg district, known for its squatters' movement and its Kultuurfabriek. In the neighbourhood, attempts are also being made at urban renewal, or rather rehabilitation. There lives Metin, a six-year-old Turkish boy, who is quite enterprising. His parents go out to work during the day and his older brother is still at school. Metin has to look after his little sister, whom he takes to the children's garden in the morning, then does the shopping and cleans the house. Metin will become Anna's "guide": he shows her the Kreuzberg district and tells her about Turkey. Together they explore, they invent games. Adult problems such as racism and xenophobia do not bother them. Both Berlin and Turkish children find Metin and Anna a strange couple. The Berlin children do not allow Anna to bring Metin into "their" playground, they are suspicious and do not understand the situation. But the Turkish children don't want to have anything to do with Anna either. Metin then thinks up something... The idea of using children to tackle the problem of everyday racism is more than praiseworthy, first of all because METIN is so correctly observed and comes across as so credible. Anyone who has ever been confronted with such a situation (adult or child) will very quickly be able to identify with one or other situation or character.
In this film, the Turkish language is not translated (at least not in the FRG). This underlines very real contact difficulties. Metin teaches Anna some Turkish words and Anna helps Metin with the German. Subtitles would actually be superfluous in such a film. Children understand and feel. Adults might make trouble about it. The actual "story" of METIN is quite modest, such that it would be thin for a feature film. The reason for this is that Thomas Draeger has taken the theories and scientific findings of educationalists very seriously in order not to make children's films too "heavy" and to tell the story primarily through images. METIN has become a "viewing film", it has been made with care and of an impeccable visual quality, which is something that happens all too rarely in the Federal Republic. Draeger takes his time to tell his story in pictures, to arouse emotions and let them work out. A very calm camera unhurriedly describes the rather drab Kreuzberg district in poetic images, never becoming voyeuristically curious about the Turkish guest worker family. The film offers the viewer images, not an illustration of a story.
Turda Yüksel, Daniela Linkiewicz, Cosar Kardas, Emine Sevgi Özdamar