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Faith Akin On The Journey Of His German Box Office Hit ‘Rhinegold’

Director Faith Akin was on summer vacation reading the biography of German rap star Xatar when he read the opening line, which said, “the first memories of my life are the memories of a prison.” 

“When you read such a strong line, I was immediately hooked by the whole thing,” said Akin at Deadline’s Red Sea Studio. “While I was reading it, I had a feeling that is material for a very crazy and cool and experimental and strong film.”

Rhinegold, which is screening at the Red Sea International Film Festival, follows the young Iranian-Kurdish immigrant Giwar Hajabi, who goes by Xatar and is one of Germany’s biggest rap stars who is known more for a gold robbery than his music. The rapper was sentenced to eight years in jail after stealing more than $2.2 million worth of gold from a transporter in 2009. 

“He became myth all over Germany, especially in the ghettos,” said the German-Turkish director who was also drawn to the themes of immigration in the story. 

Since Rhinegold’s release in Germany in October, the film has earned more than $10M at the box office and is Akin’s most commercially successful project yet. “It’s crazy,” he said of the numbers. 

“It had to be done very fast,” he said of making the film. “I had a project that collapsed and I desperately needed another film so I thought Rhinegold would be easy to do but I completely underestimated it.”

With the pandemic impacting production of the film, which had 120 locations and thousands of extras coupled with Akin having to shoot the movie quickly, it was one of his most challenging projects to date, he said. 

Akin has been lauded on the international festival circuit throughout his career, winning a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for his 2004 title Head-On and a Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Edge Of Heaven. His 2017 title In The Fade, starring Diane Kruger, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He’s reuniting with Kruger for TV series Marlene, about Marlene Dietrich and her move to Hollywood. where she’ll star as Marlene Dietrich, following her move to Hollywood. 

Earlier this year, he inked a first-look deal with Warner Media for German and Turkish language projects through HBO Max. 

Check out the video above. 

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