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A perfect Master Class with Fatih Akin

The cheerful film director has much to say!

Fatih Akin talks about his new movie “The Cut” and his work during the 10th Zurich Film Festival. The German director and one time Golden Bear winner, arrives at the festival tent looking so relaxed and with a tee-shirt saying ” I got 99 problems”. Right away he catches the attention of his public.

Today at age 41 Akin is right there where he wanted to be as a child. He tells his story with so much humor that one could just sits there for hours hearing him recount it.

Master Class with Fatih Akin at ZFF - Copyright ZFF

Master Class with Fatih Akin at ZFF – Copyright ZFF

At the age of 7 or 8 he knew he wanted to be a film director. It all started when his mother spent a week at the hospital and his father had to hire a babysitter, who came to the family home with a full library of films. As his brother was older than him, Akin ended up watching films which were grown up films. That left a powerful impact on the young boy. He recalls he could not sleep for months after that. When he was 9 years old, he started renting books at the local library on how to make films like the one from Roman Polanski. For his parents it was just a child’s dream, something completely non-sense. They wanted him to have a serious profession.

But Akin had a vision and would not let it go. At twenty he was making money with cinema and as he says it so well it was the best argument to prove to his parents he would make it in this world.

Decades later he has succeeded in the business after his famous movie Head-On (Gegen die Wand), for which he received the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlinale in 2004. This year he finished his trilogy about love, death and evil with his last film “The Cut”.

THE CUT- copyright ZFF

THE CUT- copyright ZFF

Akin, who is one of the most successful German directors, has stayed focussed since “Head-On”, always making movies that make him happy and not letting himself being pressured by what his neighbors or parents think!

He takes time to make his films. “The Cut”, a movie about the Armenian genocide in 1915, took him 7 years. Research was an important part of his work and he enjoyed it very much. He knew he had to make this film and was never scared by some death threats. After he discussed it with his family he kept it private for a while. It was a long discovery process with his crew, who did not know much or even nothing at all about the genocide.

Akin explains that the chosen length of 138 minutes was necessary. He knows that while most people may not like 5 hour films, for him it would have been fine. He had to make a decision to cut and cut again. Editing was a difficult process. One important man helping him out was the much acclaimed screen playwriter, Mardik Martin.

Fatih Akin and moderator at ZFF Master class - copyright ZFF

Fatih Akin and moderator at ZFF Master class – copyright ZFF

Akin says he turned to the well-known USC professor Mardik because he was Armenian and loved the work he had done for Martin Scorsese for “Raging Bull” (1980). Akin describes his work with Mardik as very productive. The two got along very well he shares.

Not only the two men co-wrote the script together but thanks to Mardik the film’s cost dropped at least one million, points out Akin in a funny tone. That was something positive as historical dramas are quite expensive to produce.

The American film director Scorsese even had a look at Akin’s drama before it came out on the screens. He told him to make the film the way he wanted to and show it to him when he thought he was done, which Akin did. In March Scorsese came back to him saying he agreed  “The Cut” was done. Of course this positive review made Akin real happy.

During the Master Class the courageous director, who likes to experiment with any kind of genres, reminds the guests that he has many more films to make.

Fatik Akin is surely a great inspiration for young men and women wanting to start in the film business.

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