It took the death of a close friend to prompt German-born director Fatih Akin to make a comedy after establishing himself with deeper, bleaker films about the human condition.
Inspired by Greek food and the city of Hamburg — where Akin, the son of Turkish immigrants, lives — “Soul Kitchen” was written before his Berlinale Golden Bear for “Head-On” in 2004 brought him international recognition.
Overlooked while he made “The Edge of Heaven,” Akin returned to the material — co-written by the film’s lead Adam Bousdoukos — after recalling what a close friend had said before his death: Humor was a central to life as its more difficult issues.
“It was six months after my friend’s death when I both understood that as much as death is part of life, so is humor and I decided to make the film,” Akin said at a Venice presser Thursday.
Flanked by key cast members — including Moritz Bleibtreu, who played Andreas Baader in Uli Edel’s Oscar-nominated “The Baader Meinhof Complex” — Akin added: “As a director I want to experiment. I do not want to repeat myself. I would prefer to fail as a director but going on testing (myself).”
Helped by his wife’s choices for female characters — the film features Hamburg-born actress Pheline Roggan, newcomer Anna Bederke, who’s a former student from Akin’s film school class, and Berlin-based Hungarian thesp Dorka Gryllus (who played a sex worker alongside Marianne Faithful in Sam Garbarski’s “Irina Palm) — Akin designed the film around his cast and city, using several locations that will soon be lost forever to redevelopment.
The result is a fast-paced pic as humor, music and sympathetic characters deliver a feel-good message from a director not renowned for such indulgences.
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Akin was unable to reveal details of the film’s European release dates other than the fact it gets its German exhibition bow on Dec. 25 via Pandora.