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About Turkey and Germany
First Publication: Fatih Akin 2007 Official Press Kit
13 February 2012
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Film: The Edge of Heaven (2007)

I finally started shooting on May 1, 2006.  The Edge of Heaven was shot in Germany – Bremen and Hamburg, and in Turkey – Istanbul, the Black Sea Coast and Trabzon. The shoot lasted about 10 weeks. For a filmmaker, Turkey is a great place to shoot. Shooting in Germany is much less interesting. It can be attractive, but you have to look hard or create it. The light is extraordinary in Turkey because of its geographic position. For me, shooting in Istanbul is like shooting in New York. They’re both attractive and cosmopolitan.
Each city is a megalopolis. I love to shoot in cities. I’m a big city child. It’s what I know. In The Edge of  Heaven, the city of Istanbul is actually a character. Since she doesn’t speak the language, foreigner Lotte becomes lost as she confronts Istanbul. But I also wanted to break the urban image with scenes in the countryside and the coast.


I have this Turkish background and I have this German background. I was born in
Germany, but I’m in between the two cultures. Educated in Europe, but also raised in Turkish by my parents. Turkish culture has always been a part of my life. I traveled to Turkey with my family every summer since I was a kid. Since I’m in between these two cultures, it’s natural that my films are in between, too.


I have this love-hate relationship with Turkey, a very complicated relationship. I became much more interested in Turkey after I finished school in 1995. I decided to make my first short film there, WEED in 1996. I saw another face of Turkey and I became more and more fascinated. I became more Turkish. With every meter of film I shoot in Turkey, I try to understand the country more and more. But the more I understand it, the more it makes me sad. I hate the politics, the nationalism. Look at what is happening in that country. History repeating itself. The same mistakes again and again. I love that country, but shooting in Turkey takes a lot of energy, tears and blood.


The image of Turkish bureaucracy in The Edge of Heaven isn’t harsh, it’s Kafkaesque. This is not criticism, it’s truth without comment. In the film, when the political activist is arrested in front of Ayten, the happy crowd applauses. The sad thing is that this happened naturally in rehearsal, the extras just automatically clapped. This really only happens when those arrested are considered to be “enemies of the state”. Fascism is alive and well in the streets of Istanbul.


There are a lot of Turkish flags seen in  The Edge of Heaven. Go ahead and count them. I guess the nationalists will interpret that as a sign of love for Turkey, but I didn’t put one in. They were all already there. I didn’t change the locations. I shot them the way they were. Maybe I went too far, there are so many Turkish flags!


As Germans, Susanne and Lotte represent the European Union, while Ayten and Yeter represent Turkey. Everything that happens between them in  The Edge of Heaven is representative of the relationship of those systems. I had some fun with the argument between Susanne and Ayten regarding the European Union. But where I stand is not the point. I wrote this dialogue based on what I have often heard from real people around me.
By the end of the film, German Susanne and Turkish Ayten both experience a profound change in how they see and feel about things. In the bookstore scene at the end where they hug, I noticed a small detail only in the edit. Not far from the women, there are two small flags, one German, the other Turkish. My friend and partner, Andreas Thiel, who passed away during the last week of the shoot, put them there. This stands for something.
I guess it’s also a film about the relationship between the two countries.
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Personal thoughts
13 February 2012
About Turkey and Germany
13 February 2012
Fatih Akin talks about the actors
13 February 2012
  The Edge of Heaven
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