My objective is a universal, emotionally comprehensible father-son story that describes a social milieu from the inside rather
than the outside Umut Dağ talks about the shooting of his second feature Cracks in the Concrete
Can you briefly summarize the story of Cracks in the Concrete, your second fiction feature?
Umut Dağ: Its about the relationship between a father and his son, which isnt obvious from the beginning,
but develops gradually in the course of the film. After a decade the fathers released from prison, and the son moves
in similar circles as his father did when the older man was young. The father tries to help his son, who doesnt realize
that this is his father, as he doesnt want to reveal his identity. Thats the basic plot. At the same time both
protagonists have their own stories. The sons pursuing his dream of making money with rap music and takes every day
as it comes. He doesnt care about school, teachers, etc., and tries to make some kind of future for himself with drug
dealing and rap. Ertan, the father, has to deal with his own problems, such as his brother and mother, with whom hes
always had a difficult relationship. So we have two parallel stories with a number of secondary figures who have their own
stories. The father-son story represents the core. Around this an extremely complex web develops in which everythings
interconnected - which is our ideal. Well see whether things can be realized this way. My objective is a universal,
emotionally comprehensible father-son story that describes a social milieu from the inside rather than the outside.
Did you develop this screenplay with Petra Ladinigg too?
Umut Dağ: We developed the story together, Petra did the writing and we polished it together. I wont be credited
as the screenwriter this time or in the future, because I dont see myself as a writer, but as a script advisor and developer.
Who are the two leads?
Umut Dağ: The fathers played by Murathan Muslu, who was the main character in Papa and Hasan in Kuma. The sons
played by Alechan Tagaev, a 16-year-old street kid from Chechnya. We cast him as Milan after a long search involving several
How are you approaching your second fiction feature after your experience with the first one? Is the experience you had with
Umut Dağ: Cracks in the Concrete isnt a simple shoot. This time we have more amateurs than the last time. In Kuma
we had two wonderful, professional actors as the leads, and they carried the film. They were so good that all I did was stand
aside and provide a little guidance. Amateurs were cast in only supporting roles. After his two parts in my films, Murathan
Muslu isnt an amateur anymore, but he still wasnt trained as an actor and everything comes from his gut. All the
16 year olds are talented, fortunately extremely talented, but theyre still unpredictable. Theyre not kids from
middle-class neighborhoods that we turn into tough guys, they are tough, with criminal records, and have been
expelled from a number of schools. They are what they are, and have their code of honor and their own ideas about respect
and discipline. Those are unpredictable factors. We have amateurs for the supporting roles, in addition to a few pros, and
you have to be very careful with a mixed ensemble like this so that it doesnt show. That, in combination with my shooting
style, by which I mean that I resolve scenes, have closeups, try to cut into the emotions, dont use sequence shots,
and end scenes with medium shots, all that makes things really difficult because we have to repeat a lot, and not just once
or twice, but all day. Thats rough. The final result should make all this effort and stress worth it, because Im
convinced that this will prevent the theme from stumbling into clichés.
The scenes include a rap concert filmed in documentary style, and you work primarily with amateurs. Could we say that youre
making this film closer to the reality than Kuma in spite of the resolutions?
Umut Dağ: That question implies that I didnt in the past. I have a problem with saying yes to that,
because that would mean I didnt do it in the past, which isnt the case. For Kuma I consciously chose a different style because I wanted to give that film a different form due to the content. There was something
sensitive about the story that I didnt want to damage with documentary rigidity. Cracks in the Concrete is set in an
extremely rough social milieu where I think trying to smooth out all the wrinkles would be wrong. I see that as my challenge,
that the hard documentary character does justice to the content. That should go hand in hand.
What role does this rap concert play in the story?
Umut Dağ: The boys story is based on the fact that he raps himself. Milan hopes that this concert, given by a well-known
German rapper, will be an opportunity to give the other man his tape. The boy believes in himself and his music, he believes
that he has to make it to this concert. Things dont go as planned there, and the house of cards he constructed in his
mind collapses. The concert represents a climax for him and the film.
Well shoot with the actual rapper, Azad, wholl play himself in a few scenes. We really hope that well be
able to shoot with a real audience thats there for the show rather than extras. We dont know whats ahead
for us, but it definitely wont be an easy adventure. Its essential for the film that we maintain a mixture of
documentary and fiction. I dont want to wear out the term documentary, we wont just point the camera
and shoot. Its planned out. I see myself in the same tradition as Mike Leigh and Jacques Audiard. Everythings
in an unambiguous language that cant develop randomly.
Shooting started in March. Spring started much later than expected this year. Did the unseasonable weather make work more
Umut Dağ: That was actually great for us. We were working under pressure, because we couldnt shoot in the middle
of winter but needed winters barrenness, and were afraid that we had started too early. If everything had begun to blossom
too quickly, we would have had a real problem. Were some of the few people who hope that no buds come out in the next
few weeks, that would be good for the film.
Interview: Karin Schiefer