Movie Monday: “Crossing the Bridge”

“Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul”
Directed by:
Fatih Akin
Format: DVD
Viewed: Friday 1/20/2012 with my wife and our friends Adam and Britt at our house

I have long admired the feature films of director Fatih Akin. His movies, which often focus on the difficult complications of being multi-racial and multi-cultural in an intolerant world, have been a staple for Fresno Filmworks over the years, including “Head On,” “The Edge of Heaven,” and “Soul Kitchen.” Akin is a German born of Turkish descent and he is about my age, so I directly identify with the identity politics and compromises that his fictional characters struggle with. As a third generation Chicano– which, to me, means that I am an American born of Mexican descent– I have written in personal essays about my own feelings of living between two worlds. Akin’s films capture many of those feelings perfectly.

I was surprised to discover that Akin directed the documentary “Crossing the Bridge” about the contemporary music and culture of Istanbul. My good friend Adam Marler is a bit of a collector when it comes to obscure rock and psychedelic music from around the world, so when he told me about Turkish psych-rock virtuoso Erkin Koray recently, an Internet search led me to Akin’s documentary.

As a movie, “Crossing the Bridge” was peculiar. The storyline of Akin and narrator Alexander Hacke wandering all over Istanbul together and stumbling across little music subcultures felt forced. But there were several real musical gems in the film, most notably the bratty, rapid-fire wordplay of rapper Ayben and the searing, soul-moving ballads of Aynur Dogan. “Crossing the Bridge” didn’t win any awards for moviemaking. But its mashup of musical voices seemed quite true to Akin’s cultural reality.

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