With actors Alexander Hacke, Baba Zula, Sezen Aksu, Erkin Koray, Selim Sesler
2004 has been an exciting and busy year for Hamburg-based filmmaker Fatih Akin. To begin with, his feature Head-On (“Gegen die Wand”) won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale and then picked up four “Lolas” at the German Film Awards.
What’s more, he found time in between promotional tours for “Head-On” to shoot a five-minute short as Germany’s contribution to the ARTE omnibus film “Visions of Europe” which was broadcast in May.
Then he spent this summer working in Istanbul on the music documentary “Crossing the Bridge”, a kind of love letter from the director to the city through the sounds of its different musical styles.
“Fatih approached us in the summer of 2003 with the idea of making a documentary about music in Istanbul because he knew we had worked on music documentaries for ARTE in the past,” recalls producer Sandra Harzer-Kux of Intervista Digital Media. “In addition, we knew each other personally because I had previously worked at Wueste Film.”
The idea for the project came from the meeting between the Turkish singer Selim Sesler and Alexander Hacke, a member of the German group Einstuerzende Neubauten, during the making of “Head-On”. “Alexander had traveled to Istanbul to produce the tracks with Selim who could speak neither English nor German, and Alexander neither Turkish nor Gypsy,” Harzer-Kux explains. “So, they only communicated through the music. Fatih had observed this at the time and thought it was a great image of how one can make oneself understood across borders via music without speaking a language, of how one can bring East and West together with music as a universal language.”
Fatih traveled to Istanbul in June to meet the various musicians featured in the film – some of them appeared on the soundtrack to “Head-On” – and learn more about their personal backgrounds. Some footage was shot in July, but principal photography began at the beginning of August and lasted through until September.
“We had thought about whether we should shoot in other parts of Turkey,” Harzer adds, “but we realized that everything has its place in Istanbul. There are many quarters where the cultural origins are visible, and that was actually our point: to portray Istanbul through the music and the various influences.”
The film has been picked up for theatrical release in Turkey by R-Films who also handled “Head-On” and will release Ayse Polat’s Locarno prize-winner “En Garde”. Harzer-Kux expects the film to be popular with Turkish audiences since many of the featured artists such as Sezen Aksu are real superstars there. Moreover, Crossing the Bridge will be sure to make these performers better known in the Western world as well.
Genre(s): Classic Documentary;
Theme(s): Filmmaking; Migration and Mobility; Music;