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German Film Festival | 15.10.-01.11.2020

Head-on © Rainer Klausmann


Gegen die Wand

Year 2004
Runtime 121 min
Rating R21
Language German
Subtitles English
Director Fatih Akin
Producer Stefan Schubert, Ralph Schwingel
Screenwriter Fatih Akin
Cinematographer Rainer Klausmann
Cast Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Güven Kiraç

"You can put an end to your life without killing yourself," whispers the doctor. And 40-year old Cahit, whose suicide attempt has brought him to the psychiatric clinic, knows what he means: by starting a new life. Yet the anguish in his soul continues to cry out for drugs and alcohol to numb his pain.  

Sibel, Turkish-German, lives a lifestyle that is a bit too wild for her devout, conservative Muslim family and fakes a suicide attempt to try and escape them. But the incident brings shame upon her family, who insist that only marriage can save her. And so she begs Cahit to marry her. Reluctantly, he agrees. Perhaps to save her. Perhaps to do one meaningful thing in his life.  

For a brief moment it seems as if both could be happy: Sibel gains her long-awaited freedom and Cahit tries to get his botched life under control. But he has to admit that he feels more for Sibel and cannot just watch her enjoy her life to the fullest: an explosion of jealousy ends in a violent death. Cahit is sent to jail and Sibel flees to Turkey. Her heart, her mind, her soul are still with Cahit – but for how long? 

AWARDS (selection)

2004 Berlin International Film Festival
Golden Berlin Bear, Fatih Akin
FIPRESCI Prize, Fatih Akin
2004 European Film Awards
Best European Director (EFA People's Choice Award), Fatih Akin
European Film, Stefan Schubert, Ralph Schwingel

2004 German Film Awards
Outstanding Feature Film, Stefan Schubert, Ralph Schwingel
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Birol Ünel
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Sibel Kekilli
Best Direction, Fatih Akin
Best Cinematography, Rainer Klausmann

2005 Goya Awards
Best European Film, Fatih Akin

2005 Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival
Best Narrative Feature Director, Fatih Akin

2005 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Best Performance by an Actress (Special Jury Award), Sibel Kekilli

2006 Independent Spirit Awards, USA
Best Foreign Film, Fatih Akin
2006 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
Best Foreign Language Film



Head-on is available on demand at The Projector Plus from 15 October to 1 November 2020.

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