The Edge of Heaven
“If you love the cinema, you have to love America.” Fatih Akin
Fatih Akin is an award winning German-Turkish film director, screenwriter and producer. His forth film, “Head-On” (2004), was a big hit in Germany and won Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival, the Best Film and Audience Award for Best Director at European Film Awards and an Independent Spirit nomination. The follow up, “The Edge of Heaven” (2007), gained mostly positive reviews from Western critics, and won Akin the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Best Director at Golden Orange Film Festival and the LUX prize for European cinema by European Parliament, among other awards and nominations. “Soul Kitchen” (2009) won the Special Jury Prize and the Young Cinema Award at Venice Film Festival. He also directed and/or wrote other films such as “Short Sharp Shock” (1998), “In Juli” (2000) and “Solino” (2002). Akin has also collected several acting credits under his belt, including an important supporting role on the Turkish movie “Robbery Alla Turca” (2005).
Akin was a member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2001 and a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. He is a Jim Jarmusch fan. On a more personal note, Akin has one child with his wife Monique.
Childhood and Family:
Fatih Akin was born on August 25, 1973, in Hamburg, Germany, to Turkish immigrants. His parents arrived in Germany from Turkey in the 1960s. His father worked in a dry cleaning company, while his mother was an elementary school teacher. He has an older brother named Cem Akin (born 1970), who often appears in Fatih's movies. Fatih began writing short stories and scripts in his youth. In 1994, he attended Hamburg's College of Fine Arts to study visual communications, and he graduated later in 2000.
Mr. Akin is married to Monique. The couple welcomed their first child, a son, on September 2, 2005.
Fatih Akin began his career in showbiz as an actor in an episode of the German long running crime/drama series “Doppelter Einsatz” called “Falsche Freunde” (1994), where he played Erdal. He has since acted sporadically on both television and films.
In 1995, Akin directed and wrote his first short film, “Sensin - You're The One!” (“Sensin - Du bist es!”), in which he starred along with Adam Bousdoukos and Sükriye Dönmez. His next short, “Weed” (“Getürkt”, 1996), won a Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Award at the 1998 Day of the German Short Film. Akin appeared on the film with his brother, Cem Akin. The success of his shorts allowed him to secure funding from the Hamburg based film production company Wüste Filmproduktion for his full length feature.
About an amiable friendship between a Turk, a Serb and a Greek, “Short Sharp Shock” (“Kurz und schmerzlos”), starred Mehmet Kurtulus, Adam Bousdoukos and Aleksandar Jovanovic and was released theatrically in Germany on October 15, 1998, following its premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland on August 8, 1998 and then at the Hamburg Film Festival on September 25, 1998. The crime/drama film earned Akin several awards and nominations such as a 1999 Bavarian Film Award for Best Direction - Young Film, a 2001 Adolf Grimme Award for Fiction/Entertainment, a Film Award in Gold nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement: Direction at the 1999 German Film Awards, a Golden Leopard nomination at the Locarno International Film Festival and a Golden Alexander nomination at the 1998 Thessaloniki Film Festival. Akin and his brother also appeared in the film.
By this period, Akin also had collected several acting credits, including appearances in the TV film “Trickser” and the film “ Back in Trouble” (both 1997) as well as in episodes of “SK Babies” (1996) and “Einsatz Hamburg Süd” (1997). In 1999, he starred with Adam Bousdoukos in a 11 minute short, “The Last Flight,” which was written and co-directed by Silvana Lombardi, and played the lead role of Tony in the thriller movie “Kismet,” for director Andreas Thiel and writer Kai Hensel.
In 2000, Akin wrote and helmed the adventure/comedy film “In July” (“Im July”), starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Christiane Paul. The film was a critically acclaimed hit in Germany, and won Akin an Audience Award at the 2001 Tromsø International Film Festival. In the following year, Akin directed the documentary film “Denk ich an Deutschland - Wir haben vergessen zurückzukehren.” He also acted in the award winning short “ Die Liebenden vom Hotel von Osman” (2001), by Idil Üner, and in the Hans-Christoph Blumenberg film “Planet of the Cannibals” (2001), and his voice could be heard as taxi driver in the German drama/thriller “The Experiment” (2001), by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Akin directed Barnaby Metschurat, Moritz Bleibtreu, Gigi Savoia and Antonella Attili in the 2002 Italian/German drama film “Solino,” the story of an Italian family emigrated in Germany in the 1970s. Akin picked up Guild of German Art House Cinemas' Guild Film Award - Silver for German Film (Deutscher Film) for the film. In 2004, Akin directed, wrote and produced “Visions of Europe” (segment “Die alten bösen Lieder”), co-wrote the action/comedy film “Kebab Connection” and returned to acting in the made for television film “ Ein krasser Deal,” opposite Sandra Borgmann, Josef Heynert and Tom Beck.
However, Akin did not enjoy major success until 2004 with his fourth film, “Head-On”(“Gegen die Wand,” 2004), a drama/romance starring Sibel Kekilli, Birol Ünel, Catrin Striebeck and Meltem Cumbul. The film collected a total of 23 wins and 11 nominations, including for Akin, the Golden Berlin Bear and FIPRESCI Prize Competition from the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Director and the Best Director and Best Screenwriter nominations at the 2004 European Film Awards, a German Film Award in Gold for Outstanding Individual Achievement: Direction, a Goya for Best European Film (Mejor Película Europea), a Guild Film Award - Gold for German Film (Deutscher Film), a Festival Award for Best Narrative Feature Director from the 2005 Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, Oslo Films from the South Festival's Films from the South Award, the Grand Prize at the 2004 Ourense Independent Film Festival, an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Foreign Film, a Bodil nomination for Best Non-American Film (Bedste ikke-amerikanske film), a David di Donatello nomination for Best European Film (Miglior Film dell'Unione Europea), a Silver Ribbon nomination for Best Director - Foreign Film (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero) and a Robert nomination for Best Non-American Film (Årets ikke-amerikanske film).
Next up for Akin, he directed, wrote and produced the documentary film “ Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul” (2005), from which he netted the Canvas Audience Award at the 2005 Ghent International Film Festival, co-produced the film “Takva: A Man's Fear of God” (2006) and helmed the TV documentary short “ Altyapi” (2007). He also had a notable supporting role as Lokman in the Turkish film “Robbery Alla Turca” (2005), directed by Oguzhan Tercan.
Akin's next big break arrived when he directed, wrote and produced the Turkish-German film “The Edge of Heaven” (“Auf der anderen Seite”, 2007), starring Nurgül Yeşilçay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtiz, Hanna Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska and Nursel Köse. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 23, 2007, where it won the Best Screenplay Award and was nominated for the Palme d'Or, and went on to be shown at several international film festivals. It was selected for Germany's entry to compete at the 2007 Oscar but did not make the selection of five nominated films. “The Edge of Heaven” also won Akin a European Film for Best Screenwriter, Golden Orange for Best Director and Special Jury Award at the 2007 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, three German Films for Best Screenplay, Outstanding Feature Film and Film Award in Gold for Best Direction, a Bavarian Film for Best Director, the Lino Brocka Award at the 2007 Cinemanila International Film Festival, the Jury Prize for Best Feature Film and the Best Screenplay Award at the 2008 RiverRun International Film Festival, and the Best Screenplay for National Competition at the 2008 Ankara International Film Festival, not to mention nominations at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival, the 2008 César Awards, the 2009 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, the 2009 Goya Awards and the 2010 Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards.
Akin served as producer on the German/Italian film “Chiko” (2008), directed the “New York, I Love You” segment “Fatih Akin” (2009), was a co-producer on the German/Turkish movie “Before Your Eyes” (2009) and helmed segment “Der Name Murat Kurnaz” of “Deutschland 09 - 13 kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation” (2009). Akin also directed and produced the German comedy film “Soul Kitchen,” starring Adam Bousdoukos, who also co-rote the script with Akin, Birol Ünel, Moritz Bleibtreu and Anna Bederke. The film had its world debut on September 10, 2009 at the 66th Venice Film Festival and ended up winning the Special Jury Prize and the Young Cinema Award for Best Film at the festival.
Akin is the director of the upcoming documentary film “Garbage in the Garden of Eden” (2011), on which he also served as producer. He also produced other upcoming films, such as “Mamarosh” (2011), “UFO in Her Eyes” (2012) and “Blutzbrüdaz” (2012).
Venice Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, “Soul Kitchen,” 2009
Venice Film Festival: Young Cinema Award, Best Film, “Soul Kitchen,” 2009
Ankara International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, National Competition, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
Bavarian Film: Best Director (Regiepreis), “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
German Film: Film Award in Gold, Best Direction (Beste Regie), “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
German Film: Best Screenplay (Bestes Drehbuch), “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
German Film: Outstanding Feature Film (Bester Spielfilm), “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
RiverRun International Film Festival: Jury Prize, Best Feature Film, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
RiverRun International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2008
Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival: Golden Orange, Best Director, “The Edge of Heaven, 2007
Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival: Special Jury Award , “The Edge of Heaven,” 2007
Cannes Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2007
Cinemanila International Film Festival: Lino Brocka Award, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2007
European Film: Best Screenwriter, “The Edge of Heaven,” 2007
Ghent International Film Festival: Canvas Audience Award, “Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul,” 2005
Goya : Best European Film (Mejor Película Europea), “Head-On,” 2005
Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival: Festival Award, Best Narrative Feature Director, “Head-On,” 2005
Berlin International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, Competition, “Head-On,” 2004
Berlin International Film Festival: : Golden Berlin Bear, “Head-On,” 2004
European Film: Audience Award, Best Director, “Head-On,” 2004
German Film: Film Award in Gold, Outstanding Individual Achievement: Direction, “Head-On,” 2004
Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award – Gold, German Film (Deutscher Film), “Head-On,” 2004
Oslo Films from the South Festival: Films from the South Award, “Head-On,” 2004
Ourense Independent Film Festival: Grand Prize, “Head-On,” 2004
Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award – Silver, German Film (Deutscher Film), “Solino,” 2003
Adolf Grimme (Germany): Fiction/Entertainment, “Short Sharp Shock,” 2001
Tromsø International Film Festival: Audience Award, “In July,” 2001
Bavarian Film: Best Direction - Young Film (Regienachwuchspreis), “Short Sharp Shock,” 1999