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Born in Hamburg to parents of Turkish ethnicity, Fatih Akın’s works have always been a self exploration wavering between German and Turkish culture, expressing their stark differences but also their similarities on a human level. From hilarious films like Soul Kitchen to his more serious works like Gegen Die Wand, Akin’s films always carry the burden of their characters that seem to be stuck between two worlds, trying to find their place. We took a look at this film director’s best pieces of work on the big screen.
The film that propelled Akin to stardom in Germany, In July revolves around the character of Daniel (Moritz Bleibtreu) who has decided to drive all the way to Istanbul to find Melek (İdil Üner), who he believes is the love of his life. On his journey in his roommate’s rusty old car, he picks up a hitchhiker Juli (Christiane Paul) and the adventure unfolds as they drive through South-Eastern Europe.
Cahit (Birol Ünel) has given up on life after the death of his wife, living an existence fueled by drugs and alcohol. After driving his car into a wall, he is taken to the hospital where he meets Sibel (Sibel Kekilli), another miserable soul who is trying to escape her family’s extremely traditional restrictions. She asks Cahit to marry her so she can escape, guaranteeing that they will live as roommates with independent lives. However, as their emotions toward each other change, a very complicated love story ensues.
Ali Aksu (Tuncel Kurtiz) decides to take care of Yeter (Nursel Köse) a Turkish prostitute, by letting her move into his apartment in Germany. When Yeter dies accidentally in an altercation with Ali, his son Nejat (Baki Davrak) goes to find her daughter Ayten (Nurgül Yeşilçay) in Istanbul. Two intense narratives begin to unfold with Nejat departing on his search and Ayten fleeing to Germany, due to her political activism and falling in love.
Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) is having a hard time when the girl he loves moves to China, and his brother Ilas (Moritz Bleibtreu) manages to get involved with the mob under a blanket of debt. He decides to re-open the Soul Kitchen diner with a hotshot chef who is known for his unstable antics, and things begin to change quite quickly.
One of Faith Akin’s best documentaries, Crossing The Bridge explores the diverse music scene of Istanbul from rap to experimental music, street music to the legends of classic Turkish music that are Orhan Gencebay and Sezen Aksu.
Fatih Akın’s latest film is based on the novel Why We Took The Car, a dark-humoured coming-of-age story from bestselling German author, Wolfgang Herndorf. Fourteen-year old Maik is a rich kid from Berlin with an alcoholic mother whose new classmate and friend Tschick, a Russian-German, arrives at his door with a stolen car. The two boys end up going on a life-changing trip through Germany.