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Interview: Fatih Akin • Director

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"A film on the other side of one's ideals"


- German-Turkish director Fatih Akin presented The Edge of Heaven in Cannes, where the film picked up the Best Screenplay prize and where Cineuropa spoke with the director

Interview: Fatih Akin • Director

Cineuropa: Your new film is very different from Head-On [+see also:
film profile
, which won the Golden Bear in Berlin...

Fatih Akin: In fact, I tried to make this one as different as possible from Head-On. This film has less music and there is not a single handheld shot in this film, whereas Head-On it was all handheld camerawork. I also use fewer close-ups. I thought it would be good for myself and for the film to make something as different from Head-On as possible.

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How would you describe the narrative technique?
Well, the fact that it starts in the middle and then goes back, I guess that it really something modern, like the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga. The fact that the architecture of the script is modern initially inspired me to make a modern film, with a lot of handheld camerawork and things like that, but then I discovered Eastern cinema and Persian cinema and the way they slow things down and let the audience breathe, so then my approach changed.

After working with unknown faces in Head-On, you work with two iconic actors in this film, one from Germany and one from Turkey. Why this choice?
For some time, I’ve had this image of a German mother coming to Istanbul to search for her missing daughter. For me, this image had always been connected with Hanna Schygulla. I met her in 2004 in Belgrade and was simply enchanted by her. I was also curious, because some people have compared my films to those from Fassbinder – an opinion I do not necessarily share. It’s funny because in Turkey they compare my films to those from Yilmaz Güney, something I’m also ambiguous about, because if you follow in someone else’s footsteps, how will you leave your own trace? I did use Tuncel Kurtiz, one of Güney’s regular actors. It just felt right. The whole cast works as a cast, not as a homage or a reference to something else, so it was fine.

Would you say The Edge of Heaven [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Fatih Akin
interview: Klaus Maeck
film profile
is more political or philosophical?

I want to change the world – does that make me political? I hope my film will change the world, but does that make it a political film like the films of Costa-Gavras? The Edge of Heaven is probably more philosophical than political, but I do believe that everything is connected to politics in one way or another. In our times, it is hard to separate our lives from politics and that from art. I try not to be dogmatic about it. Every belief system has its limits, even if just to separate it from other belief systems. I wanted to make a film about how you can be separated from your ideal, how you can overcome them and arrive "on the other side" [the literal translation of the German title].


international title: The Edge of Heaven
original title: Auf der anderen seite (Yasamin kiyisinda)
country: Germany, Turkey
sales agent: The Match Factory
year: 2006
directed by: Fatih Akin
screenplay: Fatih Akin
cast: Nurgül Yesilcay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Hanna Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Nursel Köse

main awards/selection

Lux Prize 2007 of European Parliament 
Cannes 2007 Official Competition
European Film Awards 2007 Best Screenwriter

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