Fatih Akin adapts German bestseller, Tschick, for a film

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2015 10:58 IST

German-Turkish director Fatih Akin has adapted Wolfgang Herrndorf's bestselling cult novel, Tschick, for a film version. Principal photography will begin in the next few weeks.

The book, which was published in more than 30 countries and which has sold two million copies, traces the life of a 14-year-old misfit, Maik Klingenberg. He grows up in a wealthy, but dysfunctional family in Berlin. One summer -- while his mother goes for rehab and his father is away on a business trip, a young Russian immigrant and classmate, Tschick, arrives with a stolen car. Together, Maik and Tschick take to the road with no firm plans.

Akin is fond of making movies that talk about a sense of alienation and rootlessness. His last film, The Cut, which was part of the Competition at the 2014 Venice, examined in all its brutality the Armenian genocide of 1915 in which 1.5 million men, women and children died.

Akin's hero in The Cut is Nazaret, played by that brilliant French-Algerian actor, Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), who is separated from his wife and twin daughters and forced into back-breaking labour. Years later, when World War I ends, Nazaret, travels from country to country, continent to continent trying to find his lost family. His journey takes him to Germany, Cuba, Malta and the US.
Mostly in English, The Cut is old fashioned in the leisurely way it narrates the pain and pathos of Nazaret as he desperately seeks to find his wife and daughters, even going as far as robbing a rich man to pay the passage on one occasion.

And although The Cut did not go too well with a section of the population in Turkey that lives in denial of the 1915 massacre, many others and Turkey itself are now beginning to come around to admitting that the horrible tragedy happened. As Akin told this writer in Venice last year that he had showed the script to two of his friends. One said the movie would be met with stones. The other felt that it would be showered with flowers. "This is what it is. Bullets and roses. I have shown the film to people who deny the fact that what happened in 1915 was a genocide and to people who accept that it was indeed so. I hope the movie could be seen at least as a bridge," Akin contended.

Akin's 2007 The Edge of Heaven, which won the Best Script Award at Cannes, is also tragic tale of a elderly widower who finds comforts in the arms of a prostitute. But a mishap intervenes, and the man's son takes up the thread to continue on the path of salvation and redemption.

It is quite likely that one would see Akin's new work, Tschick, either at Cannes or Venice in 2016.

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