Fatih Akin at the 16th European Film Festival

in 16th Lecce Festival of European Cinema

by Gemma Lanzo

The 16th European Film Festival took place in the beautiful and sunny Baroque city of Lecce known as the “Florence of Southern Italy”. The festival is a precious event showing a fine selection of European movies with the common intent of sharing cultural exchange between different European countries. It is also an important occasion for the many visitors to get a chance to talk to important directors and to get to know their works better. This year, thanks to Artistic Directors Alberto La Monica and Cristina Soldano and programmer Luigi La Monica, in addition to the screening of films competing for the prizes, homages have been paid to essential film directors such as Bertrand Tavernier and Fatih Akin. These talks saw a very significant participation of schoolchildren and university students.

The talk with Akin was moderated by Italian film critic Massimo Causo (SNCCI – National Union of Italian Film Critics) who has touched significant issues around Akin’s body of work, highlighting the idea of Akin’s cinema as a place of “confrontation” and as a place where three points of view confront one another: the one of Turkish immigrants in Germany, the one of the Turkish people and the one of the German. According to Causo his stories are almost always built in this triangulation. Akin says: “As a director I do compare” and talks about the relationship with Turkey and Germany and the comparison of different cultures. The talk focuses mainly on his latest release The Cut and Akin says that it is the last part of the trilogy on love, death and evil started with Gegen die Wand and The Edge of Heaven. The common point of these three films is his very personal approach to Turkey and his relationship with Turkey.

He also says that The Cut is very much a film about cinema itself and probably is more a film about cinema than about the Armenia genocide. Akin says: “This film was an opportunity for me to show that maybe cinema cannot change the world but it can reflect the world”. He goes on saying that he has always wanted to do a western as he has been very much inspired by Sergio Leone and there is some of his spirit in the film, for instance in the use of silence as a way of visual communication. When he started his research for the film he had to find out about the costumes, the economic phases of the time and he didn’t just studied photographs but he also studied silent films. He tells that he ended up watching Charlie Chaplin’s film and that he wanted to make a tribute to the figure of Charlie Chaplin. That’s why the main character of the film is mute.

Akin goes on saying that in this film the political message would not be the genocide and that: “The political idea of the film is that it is a statement about the freedom of speech. That is way the hero is mute, because we do not have enough freedom of speech”. According to Akin one of the most valuable gift of democracy is freedom of speech and we all have to defend it. The film is set between 1915 and 1923 that is between the Armenian Genocide (1915) and the proclamation of the Turkish Republic. The director stresses the importance of setting the story between these years to show how Turkey had become Turkey.

Akin was awarded with the “Ulivo d’Oro Honorary Award” and afterwards the film The Cut was shown.

Edited by Michael Pattison