"There are three communities in Germany. Two communities which formed a third. There is the Turkish community, the generation of our parents and the German community. Out of the conjunction of these two generations originated a third generation, the German-Turkish generation. This is a completely separate generation with its own kodex and its own socialisation. […] It has its own culture, different from the German or Turkish culture."
In his films Akin shows the close links between Germany and Turkey through migration. In "Wir haben vergessen zurückzukehren" ("We have forgotten to return", 2001), a documentary, he tells the story of his own family, which immigrated from a fishing village in the Turkish Black Sea region, and describes life as a German Turk.
Fatih Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg. Winner of the prestigious Golden Bear award for his film "Gegen die Wand" ("Head On", 2004), he is one of Germany's most successful film directors and script writers.
In the 1960s Akin's parents moved from Turkey to Germany. During his studies at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, the young Akin directed his first movie, "Sensin" ("It is you", 1995), followed by "Geturkt" (1996) and "Kurz und Schmerzlos" ("Short Sharp Shock", 1998), which portrays the life of three young immigrants in Hamburg.
The 2002 film "Solino" pictures an Italian family who immigrated to Germany (Duisburg) in the 1960s. In an interview, Akin voiced his views on second generation migrants:
"There is something which I repeatedly observe with Turks of the second generation and also with myself. I definitely do not have the same temperament as my parents or as Turks who live in Turkey. The temperament of the motherland gets lost with the second generation, it melts with the German spirit – this is the story of 'Solino'."
Akin's international breakthrough came in 2004, with "Head on". In the center of the movie is a young Turkish woman in Germany who escapes family pressure by marrying a German Turk she meets in a hospital:
"The film is a plea to give Turkish daughters in Germany more freedom. I do not want to be seen as the big moralist. But I hope that Turkish parents who have seen the movie will also start to discuss how to bring up their children."
(Fatih Akin about his film 'Head On', taz, 11.03.2004)
Looking at Turkey, Fatih Akin is more concerned about Kemalism than about Islamism.
"I see more of a reactionary force in Kemalism than Islamism. Islamism in Turkey does not frighten me … Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, was a soldier, and as a pacifist, I am sceptical. He had the ideas that the military has to protect the country from domestic and foreign enemies, especially from internal ones. Members of the army receive big pensions, it is a matter of power and the old elites do not want to lose their power. There is still the rhetoric, the thinking which originated in 1918. But we live in a period of globalisation, in 2007, one cannot survive with this thinking."
(Fatih Akin, interview, www.faz.net, 3 September 2007)
For Akin, the main obstacle to integration is mutual mistrust. In an interview in 2007 he said, "There is no integration taking place in Germany … There is too much mistrust, too much fear within both the immigrants and also the other side." (Fatih Akin, interview on rp-online, 26 September 2007)
(Fatih Akin, interview on rp-online, 26 September 2007)
The following is a list of films directed, some of them also produced, by Fatih Akin:
The German debate