The characters in director Fatih Akin’s movies are flawed, they use drugs, they take a contrarian approach to life, they survive life rather than live it (and they listen to fantastic music). While studying the humanities in college Katja (Diane Kruger, in a very strong performance) enjoyed the instant gratification of chemicals and fell for her drug dealer, the virile and handsome Nuri (Turkish-German actor Numan Acar). They got married while he served jail time for drug possession and started a family after he got freed. At the beginning of the film, Katja visits Nuri at work, the boy is there. A bomb explodes, killing both Nuri and his son and leaving Katja a widow. How will justice be served?
IN THE FADE was co-written by Fatih Akin and Hark Bohm
“In the Fade” is Fatih Akin’s most personal project to date. The action takes place in Hamburg, a city where he grew up. The film is about the killing of a Turkish man and his child, Akin is of Turkish descent. There’s often a little bit of the filmmaker in any film’s protagonist, but Akin has come out and said it outright: “Katja is my alter-ego.”
Akin, who made 2004’s “Head-On” (a film that’s on my list of favorites), came up with the idea behind “In the Fade” (“Aus Dem Nichts” in the original German) out of frustration. A series of murders of Turks at the hand of German far-right extremists had been taking place in Germany ever since 2000 and the homicides received very biased coverage. The perpetrators were the NSU (National Socialist Underground), Germany’s modern Nazis. Throughout the decade or so during which the NSU murders and the prosecutions that followed took place, the press, and German society, believed in the vendetta theory, they thought that the people who were killed were part of the the Kurdish or the Turkish mafia, they were dealers and delinquents, and that Turks couldn’t be purely victims.
Hark Bohm was a frequent Fassbinder collaborator
The director went to Munich in 2013 to attend an NSU trial, studying the case files closely. He co-wrote the screenplay.
Although she might not encourage this characterization, Kruger is the perfect counterpoint to actresses from mainstream culture. A talented outsider who speaks English, French and German perfectly, Kruger will likely never enjoy the successes of Nicole Kidman or Julianne Moore, both of whom came to Cannes this year in support of their respective movies. And yet, Kruger’s performance is the only one that stands out this year, Kruger being, in my eyes, the surefire recipient of the Best Actress prize.
Kruger and Akin met at a party during the Cannes Festival in 2012
Akin co-wrote the screenplay with Hark Bohm, a German actor, director and screenwriter. Bohm is also a lawyer and was enlisted to supervise the shooting of the trial sequences. More to the point, perhaps, is the fact that Bohm collaborated on numerous films with Fassbinder, both appearing in his films and also helping out with writing duties.
“This film is about that universal feeling of grief and its so many layers” (Fatih Akin)
“In the fade,” a film that is about sorrow just as it is about the need for revenge, made me wonder what the right punishment should be for terrorists, the deranged individuals who have made our lives smaller and saddled with angst and fear. I’m thrilled that Akin is back in Cannes and that this new film has given Diane Kruger an opportunity to both show her acting chops but also to be invited to Cannes officially to present a film, in competition. Music for “In the fade” was written by Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age. When asked why, Akin has said, “they have these fatalistic songs. It came to me that fatalism was the right attitude for this film.”