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A marriage of convenience between two troubled Turks living in Hamburg dramatically changes both of their lives in this gritty contemporary love story. Though the two share an apartment, Sibel's insistence on having an independent sex life from her husband ultimately leads to jealousy and tragedy. Director Fatih Akin (In July) dives deep into Turkish culture and explores the slippery slope of identity and cultural pride faced by Turks who either move to or are born in Germany. Winner of 5 German Film Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor (Birol Ünel) and Actress (Sibel Kekilli). Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.


I like the English title of our film, Head-On, because it sums up the spirit of our film. The German title, Gegen die Wand, translates literally as “against the wall,” which means you’re doing something futile, i.e. “banging your head against the wall.”

In making the film my crew and I went “head on” straight into the wall and the wall collapsed and we raced past it.

For a moment, I was joyous and peaceful but the moment was short-lived because I realized there were other walls ahead and they would have to come down too. But maybe these walls should remain up because tearing down walls is a dangerous business. You can get hurt and so can other people. Doing this changed me: I lost my innocence. My naïveté is no longer an advantage, it’s a burden. I became a celebrity overnight. Now, when I enter a room, I feel like everyone’s looking at me. There are so many new people in my life that it’s impossible to give them the attention they want and they deserve. Even my mother complains that I’ve become arrogant and it breaks my heart.

Although I’ve arrived where I’ve always wanted to be, I don’t necessarily like it all the time.

I’ve had offers to work in Hollywood and the truth is they don’t really need me and I’m not too sure it makes sense for me to work there. It’s strange, in the beginning of your career you imagine things will be different when you begin making it...things like you won’t fuck groupies, you won’t lose respect for other people. There was a time when Kurt Cobain seemed unfathomable to me and his suicide was incomprehensible. Now, I get it! It’s as though you have a subjective myth of yourself. It’s as though someone were a fan of let’s say, Prince or Madonna, and he finally gets to meet them. Sometimes it turns out they’re assholes, but sometimes they’re even better than you imagined. When that happens, it’s as if the whole world is a better, brighter place. Hope surfaces and you imagine everything is fabulous and we’ll all live happily ever after.

And it has to be better! Otherwise why would we go on breaking down walls: to change the world, to change your world! Every victory brings a new challenge. You pay the price; you run for your life. But when I look behind at the ruins, at what used to be a wall, I’m happy that I’ve torn it down. It gives me the self-confidence to bring down other walls.

— Istanbul, August 2004