GERMAN FILM CLUB: Soul Kitchen
Kedai Kebun Forum, Jl. Tirtodipuran 3, Yogyakarta
— free entrance! —
Director: Fatih Akin, 2009, 99 min.
Cast: Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birol Ünel, Pheline Roggan, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Monica Bleibtreu, Udo Kier, Peter Lohmeyer
Fatih Akin, the director of “Head-On” and “The Edge of Heaven”, presents a boisterous comedy. A German-Greek restaurateur is forced to defend his bistro, “Soul Kitchen”, against property sharks, tax authorities and his gambling-addicted brother when it becomes one of Hamburg’s trendy locations
Fatih Akin, the director of “Head-On” and “The Edge of Heaven”, presents a boisterous comedy. A German-Greek restaurateur is forced to defend his bistro, “Soul Kitchen”, against property sharks, tax authorities and his gambling-addicted brother when it becomes one of Hamburg’s trendy locations.
The “Soul Kitchen” in Wilhelmsburg in Hamburg is anything but a gourmet restaurant. The German-Greek owner Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) dishes up fishcakes and potato salad, Hawaiian hamburgers and pasta bake to his regulars. It’s a charming local bistro situated in a former industrial building where there’s always great music to be heard, whether soul, funk or Greek folk music. Then Zinos finds himself in the soup. His girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan), a frosty beauty from a wealthy family, leaves for Shanghai to work as a foreign correspondent. Zinos suffers a slipped disk as he tries to manoeuvre a washing machine. The tax office demands long-overdue payments. An official from the public health department threatens to close the whole thing down. The eccentric new chef Shayn (Birol Ünel) cooks mouth-watering dishes but drives away the regulars. The property shark Neumann (Wotan Wilke Möhring) pressures Zinos to sell him the bistro.
By a stroke of good luck, a music school opens up next door and the new customers delight in Shayn’s cooking. Suddenly the situation takes a turn for the better and the “Soul Kitchen” becomes a trendy spot. But this happiness doesn’t last long; Nadine finds herself a new lover and breaks up with Zinos, while Zinos’s brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu), who has just been promoted to the manager of “Soul Kitchen”, gambles the restaurant away to the speculator Neumann. All seems lost until Zinos discovers new love and a chance to win back the “Soul Kitchen”.
Reviews and recommendations
While some audiences had previously been captivated by Fatih Akin’s wildly gripping and forceful dramas, they found “Soul Kitchen” somewhat too bland and mild. Yet it is exactly his ability to create an atmosphere of intimacy and friendship that was praised as a great achievement by the majority of reviewers. Akin’s description of “Soul Kitchen” as being “a version of the German “Heimatfilm” genre” would seem to confirm this. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” writes: “The film is Akin’s love-letter to ‘his’ city of Hamburg, with all its dodgy dives and cosy corners in financially deprived neighbourhoods that are in danger of disappearing. Akin contrasts this with the colourfulness of his multicultural surrogate family and a genuine joie de vivre that ascends to fairytale heights.”
Biography of Fatih Akin
Akin, the son of Turkish immigrants, was born in 1973 in Hamburg-Altona. His father, who immigrated in 1965, worked for a carpet-cleaning company and his mother as a primary school teacher. While at school, Akin became involved in a theatre group and wrote short stories and screenplays, filming his first attempts on a Super8. After secondary school, Akin studied Visual Communication at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg from 1994 to 2000. He made his feature film debut in 1998 with “Short Sharp Shock”. In 2003 he founded the production company Corazón International with Andreas Thiel and Klaus Maeck. In 2004 Akin achieved a triple victory, and his international breakthrough, with his fourth film “Head-On”, winning the Berlin Golden Bear, the German Film Award and European Film Award. In 2005 he was on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival and there, two years later in 2007, he was presented with the award for best screenplay for “The Edge of Heaven”. “Soul Kitchen” premiered in 2009 at the Venice Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize.