Fatih Akin was born in Hamburg, the second son of Turkish immigrants. Passionate about art from a young age, Akin spent much of his youth writing short stories and scripts.
At the age of 21 he enrolled to study Visual Communication at Hamburg's College of Fine Arts. While he graduated from this degree in the year 2000, Akin had already enjoyed some international success as a filmmaker, with his first feature film Short Sharp Shock (1998) receiving both the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival and the Pierrot - the Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Director.
Since this promising debut Akin has flourished in the field, directing films such as In July (2000), the documentary We Forgot to Go Back (2001), and Solino (2002). In 2004 he made his greatest critical success to date, Head-On, which won several top prizes, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and the "Best Film" and "Audience Awards" at the European Film Awards.
In addition to these narrative films, Akin made a documentary about the Istanbul music scene called Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005) which featured the musicians Ceza, Sezen Aksu, Aynur and Brenna MacCrimmon. An historic achievement in his filmmaking life was his inclusion on the Cannes jury in 2005?a significant milestone for any young director.
Ever the political provocateur, Akin was investigated by German police in 2006 for wearing a t-shirt embossed with US President George W. Bush's name, on which the 'S' was replaced with the Nazi Swastika symbol. This unashamed honesty is apparent not only in his political opinions but also in his films, which challenge audiences with matters of culture disparity, queer issues and sexual politics.
In 2007 his drama The Edge of Heaven won Best Screenplay at Cannes as well as a number of other prizes, including Best Director at the Bavarian Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the European Film Awards. For his 2009 follow-up, Akin took a decidedly different approach with the feel-good comedy SOUL KITCHEN, set in his hometown of Hamburg.