Interview - Fatih Akin

Fatih Akin

Ottaman blues

Kaleem Aftab goes head on with the best Turkish filmmaker of his generation

Fatih Akin is embarrassed that his new film The Edge of Heaven picked up awards in Cannes and at the European Film Awards for Best Screenplay. The Turkish filmmaker admits: ‘The final film looks nothing like the script. We completely changed its structure in the edit room.’ For this reason, Akin made a point of praising British editor Andrew Bird when he picked up the prizes.

It’s the interlocking episodic structure of The Edge of Heaven that marks the picture out as the German director’s most ambitious and mature film. As with his furiously-paced 2004 Berlin Golden Bear-winner, Head-On, the plot jumps between Hamburg (where Akin was raised) and Istanbul (where his parents hail from).

The 34-year-old director, who has recently fathered a child and taken a step back from nights spinning tunes as a DJ, reflects that the pace at which he leads his life is reflected in the films he makes. ‘I think that filmmaking really is a rock and roll business,’ he explains. ‘I have a lot of friends who are musicians and I really felt a kind of similarity between the music world and the film world; I compare my films more with records.’

Akin has a particular affinity with Prince and is a devotee of the iconic musician’s 80s concept albums. ‘He made Purple Rain and after that he made Around the World in a Day, which was a completely different sound, and then Parade. He always changed the genre and I like that.’

He adds: ‘I can compare my films to LPs. One film for me is really like a work in progress, like musicians have on a record. Films take more time than music, they are much more expensive than music and you need many more people to create them than music. That is the only difference.’
To carry on the analogy, The Edge of Heaven is probably Akin’s ‘When Dove’s Cry’.

The Edge of Heaven, Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected cinemas from Fri 7 Mar.

The Edge of Heaven

  • 4 stars
  • 2007
  • Germany / Turkey
  • 2h 1min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Fatih Akın
  • Written by: Fatih Akın
  • Cast: Nurgül Yeşilçay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Hanna Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Nursel Köse

A multi-character tableau that delicately interconnects multiple characters across ill communication and violence, this is comparable with Alejandro González Iñárritu's flawed Babel. Unlike in that film, however, Akin refuses to allow melodramatic contrivance to enter the frame – just ardour and atonement, despair and hope.