Fatih Akın to direct Madonna in a Fur Coat adaptation

Golden Globe-winning Turkish-German director Fatih Akın is set to direct a film adaptation of one of Turkish literature’s most beloved novels, Turkish news site Diken reported on Wednesday.

Turkish master novelist Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat was greeted rather coldly by critics when first published in 1943. Yet the novel has gone on to be considered as a classic, claiming an ubiquitous place on Turkish bestseller lists in recent years. The book’s phenomenal late success in Turkey earned it a well-received 2016 English translation.

The novel tells the story of Turkish clerk Raif’s experiences in 1920s Berlin, where he meets and begins an intense platonic relationship with a forward-thinking Jewish woman, Maria Puder.

The German city is depicted as a place where Raif can be true to his nature, “to breathe, and to live and to love without pretence,” wrote Maureen Freely, one of the novel’s two translators.

“It is not hard to see how a novel carrying those dreams but set far away, in a long lost Berlin, might promise a refuge, and some hope, to young readers in Turkey,” she continued. “They are only too aware that the space for free expression, and even free thought, is diminishing every day.”

Slated to film the novel for the Ay Yapım production company is 44-year-old director Fatih Akın, a Hamburg-born German-Turk whose films frequently explore themes related to Turkey, both with affection and unwavering honesty.

One of Akın’s early films, Head-On, depicted a German-Turkish couple rebelling against strict, conservative family values, while his 2017 Golden Globe winning feature In the Fade depicted neo-Nazi bombers targeting Turks in Germany.

“It became apparent that (Akın) had been after the novel for a long time,” Sina Koloğlu wrote for Turkish newspaper Milliyet after a discussion with Ay Yapım head Kerem Çatay.

“(Ay Yapım) thought that if he could win the best foreign-language film Oscar (with In the Fade), then he could choose whichever famous actor he liked for the role of Maria Puder,” he continued. “That wasn’t to be, but he still got a very significant award with the Golden Globe.”

So far, Turkish television and film actor Beren Saat and French star Marion Cotillard have both been rumoured for the role, though Akın could still go for a “surprise name,” according to Koloğlu.

The film is set to be shot in late summer this year, to be completed in time for the 2019 Berlin and Cannes film festivals, wrote Koloğlu.