Marrakech Fest: Fatih Akin Talks Upcoming 'Why We Took the Car'

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Fatih Akin

"I don’t know what sort of film I just did, really. I don’t know if it’s for teenagers or adults,” he said of the film based on the best-selling young adult novel.

Influential German filmmaker Fatih Akin, who won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2004 for Head On and the screenplay prize in Cannes in 2007 for The Edge of Heaven, has once again turned toward the lighthearted as he did with 2009’s Soul Kitchen.

The director is currently editing his upcoming film, Why We Took the Car (Tschick), though it remains to be seen if it will be a lighthearted coming-of-age tale or a deeper reflection on the passing of youth. “I don’t know if it’s an international film, I don’t know what sort of film I just did, really. I don’t know if it’s for teenagers or adults,” he told The Hollywood Reporter

The novel is based on a German young adult best-seller by late author Wolfgang Herrndorf. A contemporary tale of two 14-year-olds who “borrow” a car for an impromptu road trip, the story centers on the friendless Mike and new Russian immigrant Tschick. It has been translated into 24 languages.

Following his best screenplay prize, his Polluting Paradise also screened out of competition in Cannes in 2012, but Car is unlikely to be heading to the Croisette.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be finished before Cannes, truly I doubt it,” he said. “To make it by Cannes would add pressure. The film has to go on its own journey,” he said.

“I re-edit and re-edit and rewrite before I get it out. I would prefer to have the luxury and leave it for a month and then look at it again. But I don’t know what Studiocanal wants.”

The French banner is backing Why We Took the Car (Tschick), based on a screenplay Fatih co-wrote with Lars Hubrich and Hark Bohm, and has set a fall 2016 release date for Germany only. The film was shot in Berlin over the summer.

Akin read the book five years ago and wanted to make an adaptation, but financing for The Cut came through and he moved on. Studiocanal brought him on board after firing a previous director, taking over when the film was already in preproduction.

“It took me a while [to remember] why I wanted to do this film. As I shot it I gave my best, but three weeks in I’m wondering, 'Why am I doing this film?' In the fourth week of eight weeks of shooting suddenly I was like, 'This is my own youth I’m able to reflect right now.' The novel is very much about being an outsider and I remember that I was an outsider in school and suddenly it was personal.”

Even though it’s comical he said he’ll stay away from any temptation to make it an American Pie type farce. “I’m not forced to make it very commercial,” he said.

The Cut allowed him to move on from focusing on Turkish stories, he said. “I reached a level with The Cut, you know, I made my own cut with the country in a cinematographical way,” he said.

Still, much of his work has centered on the duality of living between cultures. When he spoke with THR the day after the recent right-wing wins in French elections, he said he believes Europe is in the midst of a political shift. “I think they will shut down the borders and close down the borders and become nationalistic again. Europe will become a place where we have been before,” he said. “What will happen is something, I don’t know, but I’m not very optimistic. I think the idea of [a united] Europe won’t last.”

Though Hamburg is home, and central to the story of 2007’s Soul Kitchen, he admitted that has considered moving.

“But I don’t know where. When you see last week in San Bernadino, it’s not even safe there. Nowhere is safe.”