German-Turkish Identity in Fatih Akin’s Head-On: Transgressing Gender Boundaries, Redefining Home and Belonging

Von Eicken, Verena ORCID logoORCID: (2015) German-Turkish Identity in Fatih Akin’s Head-On: Transgressing Gender Boundaries, Redefining Home and Belonging. In: Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging. De Gruyter, Amsterdam and Boston, pp. 479-497. ISBN 978-3-11-040861-4

[thumbnail of von Eicken_German_Turkish Identity in Fatih Akin's Head-On]
Text (von Eicken_German_Turkish Identity in Fatih Akin's Head-On)
Revised_vonEicken_review.pdf - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (333kB) | Preview
Official URL:

Abstract / Summary

Fatih Akin’s internationally acclaimed film Gegen die Wand/Head-On (2004), one of
the key works of contemporary Turkish-German cinema, interrogates and complicates conceptions
of homeland, ethnicity and gender. Head-on shows that our sense of home is shaped as
much by cultural customs as by the place we live in. Its lead character Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) rejects
the home her parents are offering because she finds its religious and cultural customs oppressive
and irreconcilable with the liberties she enjoyed growing up in Germany. She moves to Istanbul,
where she experiences complete freedom, but also complete isolation and alienation,
failing to belong. This chapter analyzes the film’s poignant take on the experiences of young
Turkish-German women forced to negotiate conflicting feelings of home and belonging. It argues
that at the end of the film, Sibel achieves a self-chosen identity by defining herself not against
her family background, but independently from it, and that she does so through role-play and a
performance of gender, of different versions of both femininity and masculinity. Furthermore, it
demonstrates how the Istanbul location is used in the film to explore the protagonist’s complex
relationship with her country of origin, and to illustrate Sibel’s journey towards independence.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBN: 978-3-11-040861-4
Subjects: Film & TV
Film & TV > Film > International Film
Depositing User: Verena Von Eicken
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 11:52
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:30


View Item View Item (login required)