Neo-Nazi terrorist revenge film selected as German Oscar entry

BERLIN, Andrew McCathie (dpa)- Turkish-German director Fatih Akin's thriller "Aus dem Nichts" ("In the Fade") about a woman seeking revenge for the deaths of her Kurdish husband and son in a neo-Nazi inspired bomb attack is Germany's entry for next year's Oscar for best foreign language film.
"I have a birthday today and that's a nice birthday present," said Akin, who turned 44, following the announcement by an independent jury, which selected his work from a total of 11 German films.

German actress Diane Kruger won the Cannes Film Festival's best actress award in May for her role as the mother in Akin's film, who struggles to come to terms with the deaths against the backdrop of a botched police probe into the bombing.
The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will decide whether it makes the shortlist for the gala Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles in March next year.
Akin was inspired to make the movie following the revelations that a far-right German terrorist group, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), had carried out the murders of nine, mainly Turkish, migrants across Germany between 2000 and 2007.
"It's my way of personally coming to terms with the NSU phenomenon," Akin told dpa during the Cannes festival in May, describing the bungled German police investigation into the group as a scandal.
Set in Akin's home town of Hamburg, "Aus dem Nichts" has strong parallels with the NSU case, with the group also believed to be responsible for two bombings of largely Turkish neighbourhoods in the western German town of Cologne.
"I was born and raised in this country; it is also my country," Akin told dpa. "And yet there are people who want me to die simply because my parents come from a different culture or because I look like I do," he said.
The last alleged NSU member Beate Zschaepe is currently on trial in Munich as being an accomplice in the group's murders, along with other charges, including arson.
Like the families of the NSU victims, the mother in Akin's film, Katja, eventually confronts the suspects in the murder of her family – a young couple from the neo-Nazi scene - in a courtroom during their trial.
But Akin believes the real scandal with the NSU was that German police and media believed that the murders were the result of criminality or a migrant mafia before they eventually linked the slayings to a neo-Nazi group. This theme also formed part of the story in "Aus dem Nichts."
"This meant that the victims were accused as being perpetrators and were suspects for nearly a decade: that is racism," he said.
Up until now, four German films have been awarded what is one of most coveted prizes in world cinema.
The four films are Volker Schloendorff's 1979 movie "The Tin Drum" based on the novel by Guenter Grass, and Istvan Szabos' 1981 tale of an actor selling his soul to the Nazis during the Third Reich in "Mephisto."
Caroline Links won the award in 2003 for "Nowhere in Africa" about a German Jewish family, who fled to Kenya to escape Nazi Germany, and in 2007 it was Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's turn with his communist East German Drama "The Lives of Others."
"Aus dem Nichts" comes about 13 years after Akin shot to international prominence when he won the Berlin Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Bear, for his story about a young Turkish woman rebelling against her family in "Gegen die Wand" ("Head-on").
He has directed a total of eight feature films.

Sunday, August 27th 2017
Andrew McCathie

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