Letters from Turkey (4): Characters with Multiple Identities in Fatih Akin’s “Head-On”

The end of the 1990s saw the emergence of a young generation of Turkish-German filmmakers in Germany. Unlike their predecessors who depicted the lives of Turkish immigrants in confinement and represented immigrants as victims or outsiders, these young directors created characters with mobility in the German urban space. Some of the problems of Turkish immigrants depicted by the first generation Turkish-German filmmakers may still be visible in these young directors’ films. However, these films avoid reducing their protagonists to the status of mute victims.

The most popular of these Turkish-German directors is, of course, Fatih Akin who has made remarkable films such as Short Sharp Shock (1998), In July (200), The Edge of Heaven (2007). It may not be wrong to say that Akin’s most powerful film is Head-on (Gegen die wand), which he made in 2004 and which earned him the Golden Bear in Berlin.

Head-On depicts the passionate love between two Germany-born protagonists. These protagonists do not have fixed identities. They are neither fully Turkish nor German; they exist in “the third space”. And their quest for identity is what the film reflects very successfully.

In Fatih Akin’s film, the hybrid characters’ quest for their own selves is accompanied by carefully and intelligently chosen music and locations. In a similar manner, roads, airports, cars and planes are often used in Head-On, highlighting the protagonists’ search and their crossing borders in their search.

Head-On is an important film you want to add to your film list. It will familiarize you with a very good example of Turkish-German cinema and provide you with a remarkable depiction of love and characters with multiple identities.


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