Opening 27 Oct 2022
As Hamburg is Fatih Akin’s hometown, it wasn’t surprising that his latest film Rheingold opened at the Filmfest Hamburg and was bustling with crowds. Akin is a favorite director in Hamburg; therefore, he received rave reviews for Rheingold. Personally, I would challenge that by saying this is not one of his best films. Based on the autobiographical book Alles oder Nix: Bei uns sagt man, die Welt gehört dir by XATAR, the film follows the evolution of Giwar Hajabi’s (Emilio Sakraya) life as refugee, then gangster, and finally as a German Ganstra- Rapper. Giwar was born into chaos. This saga begins with his Kurdish parents escaping Iran during the Revolution and settling in Iraq. Shortly afterwards they were tortured by Saddam Hussein’s army. Rheingold’s beginning gives a false impression that Giwar’s mother Rasal (Mona Prizad) plays an important role in this film. It takes on the super-hero narrative as Giwar’s mother protects the father, has babies without help, and survives brutal tortures scenes. She appears to be the glue that holds the family together until their arrival in Bonn, Germany. After that she disappears from the storyline.
Giwar’s life in Bonn gives him an opportunity to create a gang and get into non-stop trouble. Giwar early on shows a strong interest in music and that interest saves him. There’s no doubt XATAR’s life was filled with unbelievable events and through all the trials and tribulations; there is a sense of humor which keeps your interests. The film had all the right elements to be a great movie but despite the violence, the laughter, the spewing blood, and missing gold, this film felt way too mainstream and somehow doesn’t capture the authentic voice of XATAR which is probably why it wasn’t picked by festivals such as the Berlinale or Cannes Festivals.
This is not the first gangster film that Akin has been involved in. The first one was Chiko by Özgür Yildirim in 2008 which I did see and it made it to the Berlinale. It might make for an interesting comparison to see which one you prefer and why. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)