Expectations were high for German director Fatih Akin's follow-up to arthouse hit Head-On. So were they met' Martin Blaney reports.
Fatih Akin is a relieved man. He has got the difficult follow-up film out of the way. Head-On won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2003 and was an arthouse hit around the world. Anticipation was rife for his next film. 'These expectations didn't just come from outside, there was also an inner pressure,' Akin admits. 'I wanted to make a better film, one that was more exciting and cinematic than Head-On.'
That film was The Edge Of Heaven (Auf Der Anderen Seite), which premiered in Competition at Cannes last month and walked away with the best screenplay prize - although many believed it deserved more.
It is intended as the second in Akin's Love, Death & The Devil trilogy. 'Where love was the central motif in Head-On, the key element of this story is death,' explain producers Andreas Thiel and Klaus Maeck, partners with Akin in the Hamburg-based production company Corazon International. 'Death brings loss, grief, revenge, recognition, guilt and forgiveness into life, and that's what our story is about.'
The Edge Of Heaven is again about Turkish immigrants to Germany and deals this time with familial relationships. 'I like the idea of making a positive film about death,' Akin says. 'I want my story to show how two deaths solve complex dramas and seemingly insoluble conflicts.'
The new film is also very personal 'It is the philosophical and political sequel to Head-On,' he explains. 'It was written during my wife's pregnancy, and my son was born during the film's production. These events made me think a lot about life and death.'
Looking for the style and means of expression for this film, Akin found inspiration in Latin American and Iranian cinema. 'During the work on the screenplay, I kept thinking of the work of Guillermo Arriaga (screenwriter of Amores Perros and 21 Grams), while (Abbas) Kiarostami came to mind during the shooting,' he says.
Akin also derived inspiration from his time as a Cannes jury member in 2005. 'It was like being in a 12-day film workshop,' he recalls. 'I learnt so much. Being in Competition at Cannes is a goal I have always been working towards ever since I began making films.'
The Edge Of Heaven shot at the mountain village of Camburnu on the Black Sea, which gave Akin the idea for his next film, a docu-thriller called Dumping Waste In Paradise. He says he has begun research into the Turkish government's plans to build a waste dump on the mountain.
'It will be in the classic documentary tradition of Nanook Of The North,' he says. 'I will be documenting the battle for this piece of paradise, but there is a lot more going on between the lines.'
The Edge Of Heaven elicited mixed reviews at Cannes, with some comparing it unfavourably to Head-On. It is a scenario Akin could have predicted. 'It has been like being set free so that, in future, I will be free of this pressure,' he says.