Media hail Turkish-German filmmaker
16 February 2004 , HAMBURG - In the latest variation on "a star is born" theme, German media were ecstatic Monday over Turkish-German director, Fatih Akin, who won the coveted Golden Bear award for the best film at the Berlin Film Festival. In a certain irony, the young man born of Turkish immigrant parents is being acclaimed for putting German cinema back on the map after his tragic love story, "Gegen die Wand" (Head-On), became the first German film to win the Berlinale in 18 years. "Fatih Akin's Berlina
16 February 2004
HAMBURG - In the latest variation on "a star is born" theme, German media were ecstatic Monday over Turkish-German director, Fatih Akin, who won the coveted Golden Bear award for the best film at the Berlin Film Festival.
In a certain irony, the young man born of Turkish immigrant parents is being acclaimed for putting German cinema back on the map after his tragic love story, "Gegen die Wand" (Head-On), became the first German film to win the Berlinale in 18 years.
"Fatih Akin's Berlinale victory is a breakthrough for German film - and for much more" read one headline in the daily Die Welt in a story commenting on how Akin represents a generation of Turks who straddle two cultures.
For Akin, who was born in Hamburg in 1973 - his father is a labourer, his mother a teacher of Turkish - the film is a return to the type of theme with which he first gained acclaim six years ago, the problems of the children of immigrants in German society.
In "Head-On", a Hamburg nurse played by 22-year-old Turkish-German actress Sibel Kekilli enters into a marriage of convenience with a much older Turkish alcoholic (Birol Unel) in order to escape from the conservative Moslem religious rules of her parents' home.
The film, with its dialogue in both Turkish and German, takes place in Hamburg and Istanbul. Akin describes it as a love story without a happy end, "because the background conditions are too crass" for the couple.
Akin said the story idea was based on an event in his own life when a girlfriend once asked him to marry her so she could escape the rigid traditions of her Turkish family.
"I have to make films about things I know about, which have something to do with me," he commented to the Hamburg daily Abendblatt. He said he had rejected a US producer's offer to do a film about Vietnam. "I only know about Vietnam in the movies."
Movies is something Akin has shown he has learned a lot about in a career which began after studies at the Hamburg School of Fine Arts and which has been cultivated by grants from the Hamburg film promotion board.
He first gained acclaim in 1998 with "Kurz und schmerzlos" (Short and Sweet) about three young immigrant children - a Turk, a Serb and a Greek - who fall into a life of crime on the streets of Hamburg's red-light district St. Pauli.
The flick of violence and realism was a bow to the influence which U.S. directors Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola have had on him, Akin later said.
Akin changed gears with his second film, "Im Juli" (In July), a dreamlike road movie in which a young man travels through Europe, from Hamburg to Istanbul - the two cities which the film director says he feels at home in.
A documentary film in 2001 called "Wir haben vergessen zurueckzukehren" (We forgot to go back) told the story about his own Turkish immigrant parents who came to Hamburg in the 1960s to find work and ended up staying in Germany.
In his 2003 film "Solino", Akin won acclaim for a story about an Italian guest worker family in Germany. It was also the first film he made in which he did not write the script.
Now, with "Gegen die Wand" the Hamburg film director has again addressed the theme of young people bridging two different cultures, the one being that of their parents, the other being the country in which they were born and had grown up in.
"My generation, and that of my parents have worked a lot and have helped to build up this country economically and culturally," Akin told the Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung about his identity as an ethnic Turk in Germany.
For many commentators, there is something more important going on in German culture, pointing to how a number of young Turkish actors and television personalities in addition to Akin are making their mark in the media.
In an editorial, the Hamburg daily Abendblatt commented: "In these times of debate about a ban on headscarves, that a director with Turkish parents can so impressively deal with these problems as a German participant is a signal which goes far beyond the film scene."
Subject: German news