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Culture

The Third Face of German Film

After Wim Wenders and Tom Tykwer, Fatih Akin ranks as the third most well-known film director in Germany. The versatile movie-maker from Hamburg, made it big in 2004 with his hit "Head On."

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German-Turkish director Fatih Akin

Born to Turkish parents, Fatih Akin grew up in Germany. His first feature film, "Short Sharp Shock," told the story of three young friends looking for happiness, love, power and wealth. It proved to be too much all at once and had a negative effect for some of the movie's protagonists.

Sibel Kekilli und Birol Uenel in Gegen die Wand, Head on

Sibel Kekilli and Birol Ünel in "Head On"

His second feature, "In July," was essentially about love, and recounted the tale of two young people, Daniel and July, who find one another after traveling thousands of kilometers between Germany and Turkey. For what was essentially a very simple story, Fatih Akin used several genres, from wild fairy-tale to romantic comedy to road movie.

"I know the route from Hamburg to Istanbul very well because my parents and I used to drive it each year during the summer holidays. We'd all pile into the car, a Ford Transit with luggage rack. It was all a bit of a cliché, and that is possibly the most autobiographical element of the whole thing."

Points for radicalism

Solino, der neue Film von Fatih Akin mit Barnaby Metschurat und Moritz Bleibtreu

A scene from Akin's film "Solino"

Although he was quite playful in his first films and wouldn't part with his original ideas, Akin knows how to switch from one genre to another. He proved his versatility in the film "Solino", which is about Italian immigrants in Germany's highly-industrialized Ruhr Valley region. For the first time, Akin adapted someone else's script, and the resulting film was a little too polished and less original.

His big hit, "Head On," was his triumph. A love story full of passion, desperation, violence and humor, it is one of the best films to emerge from Germany in recent years. It served to silence critics who scorned him for being too complaisant. His bravery was rewarded when his most radical film to date won him the highest award, the Golden Bear, at the 2004 Berlin film festival as well as the European Film Award later in the year.

Crossing the Bridge - Filmplakat

"Crossing the Bridge" film poster

Following the success of "Head On," Akin said he still had a "little bit of strength," and he invested it in the music film "Crossing the Bridge -- The Sound of Istanbul." When asked whether music has the power to affect change, he offered a clear "yes," adding that it "might be naive," but such is his belief.

And perhaps it is this very naivety which leads Akin to ask questions and to review his own opinions. As such, he remains a filmmaker with the capacity to surprise his audience and from whom they can expect much to come.

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