In The Fade (2017)

A gut-wrenching cinematic experience based on true events which grapples with the globally relevant issue of hate crimes in these evolving times of increased migration of citizens.

8/24/20234 min read

Diane Kruger, Numan Acar and Rafael Santana in 'In The Fade'
Diane Kruger, Numan Acar and Rafael Santana in 'In The Fade'

German, 106 minutes, 2017

Director: Fatih Akin

Cast: Numan Acar, Diane Kruger, Dennis Moschitto, Samia Chancrin, Ulrich Tukur, Johannes Krisch

Awards: Best Foreign Film, Golden Globe Awards, 2018; Nominee, Palme d ‘Or and Best Actress (Diane Kruger), Cannes Film Festival, 2017; Best International Motion Picture and Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Satellite Awards, 2018; Best Foreign language Film, Critics Choice Award; Best Direction and Best Actress, Bavarian Film Awards, 2018; Winner, Best Screenplay and Nominee Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Actress & Outstanding feature Film at German Film Awards, 2018

In 2004, a crude nail bomb was detonated in Cologne, Germany on a busy street populated by Turkish immigrants. Though nobody was killed, more than two dozen were injured in that explosion. This was handiwork of neo-Nazis who hid the bomb on a bicycle rack. This incident forms the basis of this film.

Nuri Sekerci (Numaqn Acar), a Kurdish German immigrant, once convicted of drug dealing is now living a happily married life with his wife Katja (Diane Kruger), a German citizen and their six year old son Rocco (Rafael Santana) in Germany. Nuri has learned Business and Administration in prison and now works as a translator for immigrants, tax advisor and travel agent selling tickets to Turkey.

One day Katja borrows Nuri’s car in the morning to go out with her best friend, Birgit (Samia Chancrin), leaving their son with him in his office. When she returns in the evening, she is in for a shock. A bomb has ripped apart Nuri’s office killing both, her husband Nuri and son Rocco. She is shattered. Being an ex-convict, police suspect Nuri of getting killed in some drug related rivalry. However, Katja had noticed a young girl parking a new bicycle, with top storage on the rack, in front of Nuri’s office and had told her to lock it as it might get stolen. She tells this to police but police are investigating Nuri and his contacts more. This saddens Katja who attempts suicide by slashing her wrists and drowning herself in bathtub. However, a call from her lawyer prompts her to wake up which says that they have caught killers and they were neo Nazis as she had suspected. The charges are filed and this starts a long court room drama which is shown in great detail and how it takes a toll on Katja’s already delicate mental health. The accused is a German young couple Andre and Edda Moller, Edda being the girl who had parked the bicycle and was seen by Katja that day. Katja’s lawyer, Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) is family’s old friend and fights her case with all might.

The key testimony is provided by Andre’s father who had informed police in first place when he discovered bomb making material-diesel, fertilizer and Nails - in his garage, leading to their arrest. However a Greek hotel owner, Nikolaos Makris, testifies in court that this couple was staying in his hotel in Greece at the time of bombing. Danilo proves to the court that Nikolaos is member of a far right wing party whose facebook posts were liked by Mollers. Even though Katja testifies in court that she had seen Edda that day park her bike, her drug use (which she had taken from Danilo after the incident to treat her pain) is exploited by accused’s lawyer discrediting her testimony.

The court acquits Mollers due to lack of conclusive evidence. Danilo and Katja are devastated. After the trial, Katja goes to Greece to trace Nikoloas, the hotel owner, who had testified for Mollers staying with him. She discovers that Mollers couple is living in an RV on a quiet beach. She builds a similar nail bomb, puts it in a backpack and places it below RV when the couple has gone out for jogging in the morning. However, after some time she retrieves it back and returns to her hotel. She spends few days all alone. All the while, Danilo is calling her which she is ignoring. This time she picks up his call and learns that he called for filing the case in higher courts and he needs her signature as next day is last day for filing appeal. Katja says she will come in the morning and thanks him for all he has done. Writing beyond this point will reveal climax which is worth seeing first hand.

The film elaborately explores the issue of racism, xenophobia, and the struggle for justice. ‘In The Fade’ prompts viewers to reflect on the broader societal implications of hate crimes and the complexities of seeking justice within a legal framework. Akin's direction is both sensitive and unflinching. He skillfully captures the nuances of grief, from the initial shock to the profound emptiness that follows. Even though all performances are good, Diane Kruger stands above all with her powerful portrayal of a grieving mother struggling to cope with her devastating loss and the quest for retribution. This film is a testament to the enduring impact of personal tragedy and the lengths to which a person might go to find closure in the aftermath of unspeakable violence.

About the director, Fateh Akin:

Born in August, 1973, in Hamburg Germany, Fatih is son of Turkish parents. He was raised in Hamburg and graduated from University of Fine Arts of Hamburg in ‘Visual communication’. Even though he graduated in 2000, he took to filmmaking quite early and made his first short film in 1995. Next year he followed it up with another one and soon in 1998 he made his first full length feature film, ‘Short, Sharp Shock’ which won ‘Bronze leopard’ at Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland and ‘Pierrot’, the award for ‘Best Young Director’ at Bavarian Film Festival, Munich.

After that he made ‘In July’ in year 2000, an interesting road-movie, ‘We Forgot to go Back’ in 2001 and ‘Solino’, an Italian-German movie in 2002. However, his fourth feature ’Head-on’ gave him widespread recognition as a director of serious talent. This film won ‘Golden Bear’ at Berlin Film Festival and ‘Best Film’ and ‘Audience Award’ at the ‘European Film Awards’. In 2005 he made a documentary titled ‘Crossing the Bridge: The sound of Istanbul’ about music scene in Isanbul. Interestingly, the narration is given by Alexander Hacke, a member of German Band, “Einsturzende Neubauten” which scored music for the film ‘Head-on’.

In 2007, he made ‘The Edge of Heaven’ which was very well received and decorated, and is reviewed in detail by this blog. In 2012 he made a documentary, ‘Polluting Paradise’ highlighting the plight of scenic Turkish village of Camburnu, which the government has turned into a garbage dump.

His present film, ‘In The Fade’, made in 2017, is based on true events as mentioned above. He continues to make films and was awarded ‘Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany’ by the government of Germany for his contribution in highlighting issues faced by Turkish-German citizens.