Glossen 26

Onscreen / Offscreen:
Fatih Akin's Head-On Collision with German Cinema

Arne Koch

For anyone interested in film, procuring a list of discussion points for Fatih Akin's critically acclaimed movies is an easy task. His diverse features are so rich with regards to cinematography that the possibilities for discourse are seemingly endless. It is important, however, to note that in order to provide a complete understanding of his works, their diverse aspects must be examined in relation to each other. Discrete considerations of cultural-political or film-historical aspects can only provide an incomplete view.[1] As such, it is intriguing how Akin's light-hearted Road Movie Im Juli (2002) must have attracted viewers for markedly different reasons than those which guided audiences toward the Quentin Tarantino-like brutality displayed in Kurz und schmerzlos (1999).[2] At first glance, the films' differences appear to be much more notable than their possible connections. This fact is accentuated by the glaring contrasts created by the captivating cinematic landscape of southeastern Europe traversed in the former, and the cold, static cityscape of the ganglands of Hamburg-Altona in the latter.

In spite of these visual and thematic differences, most of Akin's productions, including these two films, are often considered to be interconnected by a series of commonalities which include Turkish-German friction, towering communication barriers, and many facets of physical and psychological migration.[3] As argued in this essay, despite these obvious ties, most of Akin's films, and the filmmaker himself, often remain intentionally at odds with the very expectations created by sympathetic viewers and critics in regard to style, content, and meaning of his films. In this context, what one British critic observed about the film Gegen die Wand (2004, English title: Head-On) evolves virtually into a character description of Akin whom one should always expect to offer "unexpectedly pungent performances and rug-pulling narrative twists."[4] It is Akin's cinematic and personal stance, that is at odds with the artistic and political postures that the director is supposed to be taking up (or perhaps better stated, postures which some would like to see Akin accept), which will be examined, namely, a position as one of the leading young German filmmakers with the taxing dual emphasis on German nationality and on the demanding designation 'auteur.'

Akin's international success, Head-On, highlights some of the before mentioned thematic tensions (communication; social friction; migration; etc.), as well as his frazzled relationship with the German filmmaking tradition. With twenty-three national and international film awards so far to its credit including the top prize at the 54th Berlinale in 2004 -- the first for a German feature since Reinhard Hauff's 1986 film Stammheim) -- Head-On clearly illustrates on two levels the tense position of both film and director within German Cinema. By focusing on the filmic and parafilmic impact of Head-On,[5] the following discussion reveals how Akin's film relates artistically to assertions within and about German film. This essay considers the separate 'drama' created by the film offscreen, while also addressing the central question of the film's handling or avoidance of identity formation, cultural hybridity, and the enduring myth of essentializing national cultures. Because of the centrality of parafilmic elements for a film like Head-On, which include, but are not restricted to, a heated reception and frenzied discussions about the film's production, cast, and even choice of language, this dual focus provides several preliminary insights about the past, present, and future of film and identity politics in Germany.

Perhaps more than for any other recent film -- if one excludes forgettable productions such as Dani Levy's failed satire Mein Führer (2007) -- careful attention to the prereception context for Head-On and for the filmmaker becomes a prerequisite for approaching the film itself. The dynamics before the March 2004 release underscore the powerful influence of viewers' assumed a priori understanding on subsequent interpretations and categorizations of film and director.[6] Although the focus at scholarly symposia on award-winning German films might suggest that critics have recently encountered a more varied cinematic selection that would once again allow them to discuss German Cinema as Filmkunst,[7] the fact remains that the large majority of recent productions continues to exhibit an all too familiar feel. Surely there are noteworthy exceptions to the rule -- and distinguished scholars like Eric Rentschler include Akin as such[8] -- but most would agree that the bulk of recent German film is characterized by trivial, entertainment-driven, Hollywood-inspired plots and content,[9] the use of unimaginative cinematic language, and -- to many critics, most significantly -- a seeming absence of politically and socially discerning ideas that scholars and moviegoers once used to associate so readily with the New German Cinema.[10]

In fact, colleagues from language departments may think back, for example, to some point during an academic year, when a student-run German Club tried to cater to a (hopefully) larger audience for one of their bi-weekly film screenings with a less distinguished movie. This selection may have been a television-series spin off such as Der Schuh des Manitu (2001), or one of the many sexual comedies like Liebe deine Nächste (1998). Naysayers truly cannot be blamed for their strident discontent with this so-called "German Cinema of Consensus."[11] No one would argue the fact that the last two-and-a-half decades of German film can and should be viewed to some extent in light of the obvious manipulative "marketing ploys" that motivated their production.[12] Yet, a film's popularity or its ability to simply entertain the masses does not necessarily result in its complete depolitization. Nor would such factors automatically turn a film or genre into the antithesis to the New German Cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, and others.[13] Even if Akin's Head-On is to some degree a victim of today's marketing schemes,[14] it nevertheless suggests that there may very well be a new New German Cinema, with a sustained emphasis on 'new' and on 'German.'

Akin's contributions to the "liberating pleasures of cinema"[15] differ from other popular filmmakers, including Christian Petzold and Tom Tykwer to whom Akin has occasionally compared himself.[16] Akin remains intently focused on telling and selling stories while challenging his audiences. While some view this as a contradiction, Akin regards this duality as a product of his stated preference for realist or neo-realist cinema.[17] From its opening sequence, the film Head-On, like its filmmaker, resists being reduced to easy cinematographic or topical categorizations. With the first two tense sequences, Akin manages to establish visual as well as diegetic and non-diegetic wedges that rip viewers out of their comfort zone. Only five minutes have elapsed when the movie's tragic lover, Cahit, tries unsuccessfully to commit suicide by driving at full speed head-on against a wall. By that point, much has already been established about the apparent protagonist loser and the narrative: something deeply violent, yet equally melancholic literally drives this down-and-out man in his drunken rage to utter desperation. Preceding his crash, Cahit first crudely turns down the advances of his on-and-off lover, Maren, before physically assaulting a bar guest who verbally attacks him with an array of provocations. As a result Cahit finds himself (again literally) kicked out of the bar. This time the physical act is coupled with the ambivalent verbal suggestion to "Go home." The subsequent race toward Cahit's attempted suicide visually sends the viewer careening through the tight city streets of Hamburg as the blaring sounds of Depeche Mode's droning "I feel you" add their own aural assault.

Such hectic scenes, full of jump cuts and changing camera angles, are tightly connected to the much slower pace of the subsequent sequence in which Cahit meets Sibel. In this initially more peaceful moment, Sibel asks Cahit to marry her as a means of escaping a traditional Turkish family situation. A few short scenes after his refusal, she attempts her own dramatic suicide by slitting her wrist with a broken beer bottle. Although the repetition of the attempted suicide obviously connects both sequences, the formation of a coherent unit is established above all by a frame which Akin himself sees as a contrasting "Brechtian element."[18] A seven piece Turkish folk band performing traditional Gypsy-songs along the Bosporus in Istanbul serve as a framing device which ruptures what would otherwise appear to audiences as a familiar contemporary German narrative of anxiety and frustration culminating in suicide. The intensity of both sequences is now even more powerful, as the initial pop-Multikulti constellation -- bum meets pretty girl who hopes to have found an escape from the inflexibility of her traditional family -- is retrospectively exposed as being anything but that predictable.[19] The unexpected musical interludes, which help to defamiliarize the all too common tale, occur six more times throughout the film. They provide not only a visual bridge between the 'acts' of a Romeo and Juliet-tragedy of sorts, but also a simple narrative commentary through the presence of Turkish folksong text imagery. Notwithstanding the significance of these transitional interludes, they are not sole factors in contributing to the complexities facing the filmic narrative and viewer expectations.[20]

It is critical that Head-On rarely satisfies viewer expectations. In contrast to Akin's previous multicultural Road Movie in which Istanbul is the blissful end of a trans-European journey for two searching lovers,[21] Cahit and Sibel's quest for love and happiness remains open past the filmic conclusion. Head-On intentionally dissatisfies those viewers who gain pleasure from the resolutions found in other Turkish-German films.[22] Building instead on the false expectations produced by the relationship between Cahit and Sibel, the budding love affair fails for more complex reasons than just an overabundance of sexual infidelity, drugs, and extreme violence. Cahit, born in Turkey, finds himself immersed in Hamburg's Punk subculture to such a degree that he struggles to master the most basic niceties of his mother-tongue in conversations with Sibel's relatives. Apparently, he has taken his immersion into German life to the extreme. In an act of self-hatred and denial, Cahit exhibits the rampant callousness of many other Germans by simply denigrating other Turks as Kanaken.[23] It takes Sibel's outspokenness to eventually raise Cahit's awareness of his repressed sense of self as she forces him to rethink this xenophobic posture. Her words (Wieso, bist doch selber einer!) lead him to pause and examine Sibel (and himself) even more carefully. It is thus a mix of two opposites that brings Cahit ever closer to Sibel. On the one hand, he is attracted to the enticing sexual freedom that Sibel personifies. Paradoxically, Cahit is equally drawn to her exaggerated 'performances' of Turkish traditionalism which are seen at the wedding, in their household, and even in Turkish discos which symbolize his departure from the epicenter of northern German alternative music, Die Fabrik. It is the combination of these two elements, along with her spousal promise to be there for him that make Sibel even more alluring.

The appeal of Sibel's seemingly traditional Turkish values is again intended to defy all viewer expectations. Unlike Cahit, she was born and raised in Hamburg and tries everything possible to escape her parents' tradition-bound middle-class Turkish domesticity. Although Sibel decorously shelters her parents from her wild nightlife adventures, it is curious that she replicates in her phony marriage to Cahit the very structures from which she is fleeing. In Cahit she seeks a man who is Turkish by name only, hoping that she can finally express the resistance that has built up within her against everything traditional, not just against Turkish, social conventions: "Ich will leben, ich will tanzen, ich will ficken! Und nicht nur mit einem Mann!" Yet, as her double-life commences (the good Turkish bride by day, the uninhibited hedonist by night), Sibel cannot escape her true preference; she screams at Nikko, one of her one-night-stands, that she is a married Turkish woman whose husband will kill her lover -- an ominous prediction whose roots can be traced to deep-seeded traditional ideals. [24]

Are Sibel's actions then merely part of a self-destructive performance? Or are they perhaps an expression of her true desires? Whatever viewers may ultimately conclude, it is important to remember that Sibel's destructive behavior is only a part of a chiastic movement structure that places Cahit on the opposite end of Sibel's origin and destination.[25] From the beginning, their desires, movements and actions leave them too far distanced to achieve any kind of third space between the two cultures that they must navigate. For all intents and purposes, there really cannot be a true sense of cultural hybridity in this movie -- at least with regard to the two main characters. In Sibel's brother, Yilmaz, or in the Bavarian-Turkish taxi driver in Istanbul, one catches a glimpse of some alternative resolutions in which the two worlds are seemingly accommodated or combined. Several characters, at least, have found or created a fragile third space for themselves. However, in spite of what critics suggest idealistically for Head-On, for Sibel and Cahit, Homi Bhabha's post-colonial Third Space exists merely as theory.[26] In their lives, there is merely room for unresolved discursive tension within liminal space. No negotiation between either this One or the Other, be it Germany or Turkey, traditionalism or unconventional freedoms can be accomplished successfully. Therefore, the resulting constancy of motion must not be misread as some sense of hybrid identity formation in which new situations or new alliances arise through the process of translating one set of cultural principles through the necessary rethinking and extension of these principles into another.[27] In Head-On, there is no "fluid adaptation" as Zeynep Kiliç terms it.[28]

Instead, Sibel and Cahit's diametrically opposed paths collide in one tragic moment. Their chiastic movements symbolically and physically cross paths when Cahit fulfills his role as the 'conservative' Turkish husband and kills Nikko. Sibel's earlier threat to her lover -- and her desire for a 'traditional' husband to fend for her honor -- has been realized. The reality of the situation following the murder -- Cahit's imprisonment and Sibel's dishonoring of her family -- now merely continues to force the two lovers' paths apart for good, as do the individual choices they make. No resolution or long-term amalgamation can be established. Akins resists, as Deniz Göktürk warns quite correctly, "well-meaning projects encouraging multi-culturalism, that often result in the construction of binary opposition between 'Turkish culture' and 'German culture.'"[29] The idea of postmigrant happiness thus intentionally remains a fantasy, and a German mainstream fantasy at that, as some cynics would argue.[30] Still, the possibility for a positive outcome lingers as Sibel hesitantly tries to rebuild her life in Turkey, working in a traditionally acceptable role of a hotel maid. Yet, Akin once again only flirts with popular viewer expectations as Sibel cannot (or perhaps intentionally fails to) negotiate between both worlds. In the end, she abandons any hope of finding a solution, and in a drug induced state she provokes a group of young men in Istanbul essentially to viciously attack her -- this time, she has others symbolically and nearly literally kill her old self. Even after Cahit arrives, anticipating a traditional life, if not with entirely uncritical expectations for a new life in his Turkish birthplace, Sibel remains a stranger in Istanbul -- a stranger because of her non-traditional household with boyfriend and daughter.

Additional moments in Head-On further highlight attempted but failed negotiations between national cultures and traditions. Notable verbal exchanges (for example, when Sibel's brother criticizes Cahit's wretched Turkish skills, who in response provocatively notes that he "threw them away") and highly visual cues situated both in Hamburg and in Istanbul, such as Turkish supermarket products or post-coital backgammon games, all come together to expose how viewers' and critics' obsessions with resolutions are merely superimposed onto Akin and his film. Parafilmic debates then reiterate how a demand for politically correct alternatives to Either/Or resolutions of national identity has merely caused viewers and critics to project the ideas of hybridity or duality onto film and filmmaker. What once had provoked and shocked German audiences -- when the New German Cinema with Fassbinder's Katzelmacher (1969) and Angst essen Seele auf (1974) depicted Germany as a country uninhabitable for foreigners and outsiders -- over time became commercialized and was twisted into an appealing and hopeful way of looking at lives in-between cultures. Pessimistic depictions of the inner city Ghettos of Berlin and elsewhere throughout the 1980s and early 1990s now became pleasant multicultural solutions, despite tensions between winners and losers, insiders and outsiders. By talking about the dilemmas of migration, xenophobia, and identity, films successfully turned their problem into our problem, but not necessarily in a negative sense. In this process one positive idea outweighed everything else as they (the Other) became a part of us. Contents that had originally concentrated on problems caused by our (that is Germans') hostility toward others in Germany had now been conveniently reappropriated, albeit by never actually dealing with any of the conflicts that were portrayed. The third generation of filmmakers like Thomas Arslan, Ayse Pollat, and Akin -- inspired considerably by the French cinéma beure and Mathieu Kassowitz's La Haine (1995) -- now found their once dissident tales about foreigners more frequently misread as harbingers of hope. Suddenly, their films were simply viewed as celebrated chronicles of a multicultural German society. This was a change that was welcomed by a German mainstream and subsequently incorporated as 'German' in comedy shows and musical acts.[31]

It is in this artificially created mainstream position where one has to situate, at least to some extent, the initial public discussion of Akin and Head-On, particularly surrounding the frenzy of the 2004 Berlinale. Popular expectations had built up tremendously with Akin's three earlier films, and now more than just those who handed out awards at film festivals were interested in his newest work. Im Juli had noticeably catered to a larger German audience -- if not quite with the success of Tykwer's Lola rennt (1998) -- and it was partly because of its success that expectations were great for Head-On. When the movie departed from the path established by Im Juli and Solino (2002), discussions surrounding Head-On shifted, concentrating on portions of the film that did fit the pattern.[32] The more intense debates about the film, however, focused on aspects other than the film itself and eventually took over much of the discourse. Akin's newest Immigrantendrama, as it had been proclaimed by some,[33] had developed a life of its own and the finer filmic nuances that departed from predictable, harmonizing patterns were simply overshadowed by different offscreen spectacles. Television entertainment shows on private channels such as SAT1 and RTL picked up on the almighty BILD-Zeitung's thinly veiled campaign of negativity, harping on the 'discovery' of lead actress Sibel Kekilli's previous film credits in the porno industry. It was in the end the yellow press itself that set out to salvage Akin's film for the broadest possible audience, of course as would be expected, with further insult. For the popular media focused on what it regarded as wonderful 'German' attributes about the film and the filmmaker, while concurrently and shamefully highlighting a number of stereotypical racial and physiognomic differences.[34] In the end, even reviews that voiced some outrage about these low brow media reports only further sensationalized Kekilli's adult film past, thereby revealing the dubious nature of this particular parafilmic debate.[35]

As the recent wave of political hoopla about Horst Seehofer's infidelity or Gabriele Pauli's S&M photo shoot in the magazine Park Avenue suggests, if a self-declared moral elite cannot be safe from sexploitation by the media, the popular film medium never will be. Although sex sells, it is still surprising that other intriguing pre- and post-production issues almost entirely disappeared from the popular radar screen. This is particularly interesting as these less frequently discussed points are ultimately surprisingly close to the narrative tension on which Head-On is founded. For example, the explicit, at times bone chilling dialogues between Cahit and Sibel, which some had praised for adding to the film's realist mood, were toned down for the Turkish version which premiered at the same time as the version for the German market.[36] Given the presence of an anti-traditionalist thread in Head-On, alongside the ongoing criticism of western Europe against Turkey's desire for membership in the European Union, this kind of hidden (self-)censorship deserved broader attention. It remains most notable that when all was said and done the mainstream media (and the yellow press once again was a part of this) eagerly proclaimed the film's wide appeal and awards -- comparable to a great soccer victory by the national team -- as a triumph for Germany.[37] That the Turkish press simultaneously celebrated the success of their 'very own' national filmmaker illustrated even more clearly what may be cause for alarm for essentialist thinkers.[38]

Akin's subsequent reflections, in a wide range of interviews and in publications accompanying the film, only further complicate this matter of national belonging. But it would be proper to assume, given the frankness yet ambiguity of his film, not without intent. In describing his own film as "ein deutscher Film mit einer türkischen Seele,"[39] Akin seems on the verge of adopting a popular mantra espoused by many politicians and journalists who would like to see the two worlds of 'German' and 'Turkish' come together as close as possible, if only, in a best case scenario, in harmonious parallel structures. As one might expect, however, Akin's own heart and soul duality -- that some rightly interpret as supporting the idea that at the very least his filmmaking is located within a hybrid third space[40] -- has been challenged on other occasions by the filmmaker himself. Some of these challenges even directly relate to the plot of Head-On. In one instance, in March 2004, shortly after the Berlinale frenzy, Akin revealed the following to Rüdiger Suchsland in the magazine artechock:

"Und wenn ich nichts über Türken gemacht habe [z.B. in Solino], kam die Frage: Warum nichts über Türken?... Ich bin es halt deswegen so leid, weil ich letztendlich gar nicht an Nationalitäten glaube. Ich fühle mich als Weltbürger. Du würdest ja auch von Dir sagen: Du bist ein deutscher Filmemacher. Oder? Deutscher Filmemacher. Mit Sicherheit."[41; italics in original]

As Akin suggests regarding the demand to dramatize the situation of Turks in Germany, when expectations created by audiences or stagnant film practices become a demand for and by the German Cinema -- culturally motivated or not -- the essential integrity of filmmaking is challenged. Akin's commentary is revealing as it shows moreover that the filmmaker's sense of self appears openly challenged by such expectations as his artistic aptitude is seen as being entirely dependent upon his national identity.

Therefore, for viewers and critics to seek out, in Akin's biography or in a film like Head-On, some sort of miraculous resolution between multiple national affiliations is simply a reflection of their detachment from the reality that is fictionalized on film. In the end, one can conclude that the contemporary postmigrant reality, shared by Germans and others in a growing Europe characterized by porous borders and changing principles, leaves little room for those that do not already possess a sense of home. It matters that Akin's protagonist, Cahit, literally and figuratively continues down the road to nowhere upon his 'return' to Turkey, whereas Sibel's new family life 'returns' her to a place from which she has always tried to run away. As vague as this may seem, such openendedness is precisely what helps constitute Akin's realism; his is a realism that carries out the principle of a freies Darüberstehen -- to make use of Theodor Fontane's ambiguous dictum -- full of unresolved tensions, open twists and turns, and contradictions. Only with the willingness to acknowledge such a reality are viewers ultimately able to conclude that Akin and his protagonists intentionally remain lost in their search for a sense of belonging. Because Head-On purposely resists the cinematic trends of a "German Cinema of Consensus" with its lamentable preference for easy solutions, Akin's filmic collision at last signals the arrival of a new New German Cinema.

Akin sees his entire oeuvre as an ongoing search for solutions, a process which is never complete but rather constantly in motion and thus the key to his cinematic vision: "Ich denke, die Konstante ist die: Alle meine Figuren sind auf der Suche. Auf der Suche nach einem besseren Leben. Aber mit Ausnahme von Solino scheitern alle. Oder es bleibt offen, ob sie das bessere Leben finden. Und im Ursprungsland suchen sie Erlösung. Aber die Erlösung finden sie nicht."[42] Ironically, critics' laments about the demise of the New German Cinema with its emphasis on "questions of identity and collective a continuing source of tension and disquiet" help to define Akin's own tense filmmaking.[43] The politics of Akin's works may be completely unlike those of Fassbinder, Herzog and others, but this difference is ultimately something positive. The absence of answers to many crucial questions raised in his films does not make them any less political, but rather a true reflection of our present day reality.

1 See, for example, Zander and Johnson.
2 For a brief commentary on and summaries of Akin's oeuvre, see his online biography by the DEFA Stiftung.
3 See Metz and Seeßlen 21-22.
4 See James.
5 The notion of the parafilmic includes in its broadest sense all extra-filmic aspects used in the context of production, promotion, and reception of the film. The term loosely draws on the notion of "paratextuality." See Genette 2.
6 On the idea of manipulating viewers prior to a film release compare Genette 2-4.
7 James notes in his review of Head-On to what degree the film is "vastly superior to the merely well-realised television movies that often count at film festivals as German cinema." A first version of this essay was presented at one of these events. I would like to thank all participants of the panel on recent award winning German films at the 2006 ACTFL Convention in Nashville, TN for their comments and questions. Special thanks go to Margit Sinka and Reinhard K. Zachau.
8 See Rentschler (2000) 276-77.
9 The condemnation of the Americanization of German Film can be found in another article by Rentschler (1996) 271.
10 Compare the criticism by Corrigan and Davidson.
11 See Rentschler (2000) 260. For an excellent illustration of Turkish-German features as filmic interrogations of Rentschler's "Cinema of Consensus," see Reimann 128-78.
12 See Rentschler (1996) 269.
13 Davidson notes the negative perception by critics of the avalanche-like success of popular film in Germany during the 1990s to have all but assured a disappearance of films' oppositional, political function once upheld by the New German Cinema (155-64).
14 See Metz and Seeßlen.
15 Göktürk 255.
16 See, for example, the interview with Suchsland.
17 See Göttler.
18 See the interview with Mitchell.
19 See, for example, Nicodemus.
20 Narrative complexities are further heightened as a viewer's recognition of a Turkish cultural background -- as a result of the songs performed in Turkish -- is challenged both physically by the position of the folkband at the geopolitical boundary between Europe and Asia and culturally by the subtlety of performing songs that originated in Greece and in the Balkans. My appreciation goes to the reviewer who reminded me of this latter detail. On the dual purpose of distanciation and transition, see also Suner.
21 For a recent analysis of Im Juli, see Koch.
22 See, for example, the positive reading of the film's open ending by Johnson 66-67.
23 Busche reads Cahit's insults as a response of second generation Turks in Germany against their parents' traditionalism.
24 Sibel: "Lass die Finger von mir! Ich bin eine verheiratete Frau! Ich bin eine verheiratete türkische Frau! Und wenn du mir zu nahe kommst, bringt mein Mann dich um! Kapierst?"
25 I introduce this chiastic movement structure for Cahit and Sibel developments to help readers visualize their different, yet comparable desires and paths as actually inverted parallel structures. Their intentions, though at first glance diametrically opposed, are but repetitions of the same desires. As I demonstrate later in this essay, this structure forces them to meet or to have their paths cross at one point. For more on chiasmus, see Silva Rhetoricae.
26 See Johnson 20-27. More on the notion of a Third Space, see Bhabha 55.
27 See Rutherford 216.
28 Kiliç 164.
29 Göktürk 246.
30 Compare the negative assessment by Metz and Seeßlen.
31 This paragraph highlights some of the oft-discussed changes in "migrant" cinema. For a concise but detailed overview of the developments in German "migrant" cinema and culture since the late 1960s culminating in success stories of comedy personalities like Erkan and Stefan, see Metz and Seeßlen.
32 See Suner.
33 See Küttler.
34 The Bild praised Akin as "hamburgisch wie Hans Albers," yet at the same time orientalized the filmmaker as exhibiting "wehendes, drahtiges Schwarzhaar und eine wunderbare olivenfarbene Haut" (quoted in Nicodemus).
35 In an otherwise positive review of the film, Baumgardt implies that Akin perhaps counted on the 'scandal' surrounding his lead actress to draw more attention to the film. See also Schmidt.
36 See Schlötzer.
37 Victory proclamations ranged from expressions of regional pride in the Hamburger Abendblatt to familiar soccer allusions and the 1954 Miracle of Berne by the Zeit.
38 See Gülfirat. Akin, however, who has expressed great joy at being celebrated in Turkey much like a Rockstar, also has experienced a rather tense relationship with Turkish viewers and the media, even with political authorities. The recent police cancellation of the premiere party for Akin's Auf der anderen Seite (2007) at the Antalya Filmfestival was seen by many as a direct response by the Turkish authorities to the highly political nature of Akin's feature. See Pientka.
39 Akin 244.
40 See Johnson 29.
41 Interview with Suchsland.
42 Ibid.
43 Rentschler (1996) 280. See also Davidson.    


Akin, Fatih. Gegen die Wand: Das Buch zum Film. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2004.

---. Interview with Rüdiger Suchsland. "Ich bin wirklich davon ausgegangen: Ok, das könnte mein letzter Film sein...und wenn das schon so ist, dann mach ihn wenigstens gut." artechock 11 March 2004, 24 July 2007 <>.

---. Interview with Wendy Mitchell. "Going to Extremes: Fatih Akin on his Turkish-German Love Story Head On." IndieWIRE 24 July 2007 <>.

Baumgardt, Carten. Rev. of Gegen die Wand (Drama, Deutschland 2003). FILMSTARTS.DE 27 July, 2007 <,Gegen%20die%20Wand.html>

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"Fatih Akin. Biographie." DEFA Stiftung 24 July 2007 <>.

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Göktürk, Deniz. "Beyond Paternalism: Turkish German Traffic in Cinema." The German Cinema Book. Ed. Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter, and Deniz Göktürk. London: British Film Institute, 2002. 248-56.

Göttler, Fritz. "Im Kino: Der Berlinale-Gewinner "Gegen die Wand." Lust auf Leben." Süddeutsche Zeitung 10 March 2004, 24 July 2007 <>.

Gülfirat, Suzan. "Altona holt den Goldenen Bären. Der Hamburger Regisseur Fatih Akin ist der Gewinner der Berlinale - und Hürriyet feiert ihn als türkischen Tarantino.'" Der Tagesspiegel 16 Februar 2004, 27 July 2007 <>.

James, Nick. Review of Head On (Germany/Turkey 2004). Sight & Sound 14.11 (2005). <>.

Johnson, Courtney Elizabeth. "From Essentialism to Hybridity: Fatih Akin's Gegen die Wand as Portrayal of Second-Generation Turks in Germany." M.A. Thesis. Bowling Green State University, 2006.

Kiliç, Zeynep. "Second-Generation Turkish Immigrants in the United States and Germany."Crossing Over: Comparing Recent Migration in the United States and Europe. Ed. Holger Henke. Lanham: Lexington, 2005. 163-181.

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Küttler, Christian. "Das Wunder von Berlin." June 2005, 27 July 2007 <>.

Metz, Markus and Georg Seeßlen. "Fucking Identity. Der Blick auf Deutschland steht am Anfang und Ende der Migrationsgeschichten des deutschen Kinos: Wie aus der dissidenten Geschichte der Fremdheit das tröstende Märchen von der Identität wird." die tageszeitung 7 January 2006.

Nicodemus, Katja. "Ankunft in der Wirklichkeit." Die Zeit 19 February 2004, 24 July 2007 <>.

Pientka, Claudia. "Akins Party gerät in politische Mühlen." Der Stern 24 October 2007, 30 October 2007 <>.

Reimann, Andrea. "Growing Up in Postwall Germany: Situating Turkish-German Cinema as New Realism." Diss. University of Illinois at Chicago, 2006.

Rentschler, Eric. "From the New German Cinema to the Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus." Cinema and Nation. Ed. Mette Hjort and Scott MacKenzie. London: Routledge, 2000. 260-77.

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Gegen die Wand. Germany 2004. Director: Fatih Akin. Screenplay: Fatih Akin. Cast: Birol Ünel (Cahit Tomruk), Sibel Kekilli (Sibel), Catrin Striebeck (Maren), Meltem Cumbul (Selma Güner), Güven Kiraç (Seref), Cem Akin (Yilmaz Güner). Producers: Ralph Schwingel, Stefan Schubert. Cinematography: Rainer Klausmann. Editor: Andrew Bird. Original Music: Alexander Hacke, Maceo Parker. Production Company: Wüste Filmproduktion, co-produced by NDR/arte, Corazón International. English Title: Head-On. Run Time: 121 min.