İçim cız yaptı

, I felt a pain in myself when I heard of Birol Ünel's death this morning.  

On a November night, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when we first met in one of the wild bars in Mitte, it was immediately clear to me - it was him, the German Errol Flynn.

At that time I was preparing my debut film


and was looking for an antagonist.

Birol Ünel had been recommended to me by friends, but always provided with an instruction manual. At that time he was already known as an actor and at the same time notorious.

It is not difficult to be notorious in Germany if you are sensitive and resist.

Birol Ünel promised me to play in my film.

He promised to help me.

It was first an acquaintance, later a friendship for life.

Neco Çelik, born 1972 in Berlin, is a theater, film and opera director.

His feature films "Everyday" (2002) and "Urban Guerillas" (2003) as well as his television documentary "Kreuzberger Nights - Young Turks in Berlin" (2006) deal with migrant life and youth culture in Germany.

In 2011 he was awarded the Faust Theater Prize for his staging of Ludger Vollmer's opera "Gegen die Wand" based on Fatih Akin's film.

His TV series "Crews & Gangs" is currently running on the streaming portal Joyn.

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While the funding of my debut film dragged on, he played on television in Heinrich Breloer's two-part

Death Play


A masterpiece.

The force of his acting literally jumped in your face.

I kept hearing how difficult it was with Birol, how undisciplined he was, he would stage himself.

He always wanted to bring the role into real life.

You should always have asked yourself: Where does the person Birol Ünel end, where does the role begin?

Why did you feel the need to ask yourself all the questions, where does Birol Ünel begin and where does it end?

I accepted him as he was: curious, stubborn, affectionate, loyal, destructive.

He had always put his repertoire on display.

In my opinion, a casting for Birol Ünel was unnecessary.

In Birol Ünel I saw a soul mate on the subject of origin.

He never thought about it because others only thought these were interesting.

He found these people repulsive, who always saw their origins first before they knew people.

He too had made his experiences with these backwoodsmen in the cultural sector.  

As someone who was born in Turkey, was of Azerbaijani and Persian origin and who found himself on German soil at the age of seven, the soul stones must have gone mad somewhere along the way in his soul. 

The fact that he trained as a carpenter was better known among his friends than his studies at the University of Music and Theater in Hanover.

He liked to remind his entourage that Jesus was also a carpenter.

I loved that about him.

That he was always able to surprise people.

At the end of the nineties we shot a teaser for a debut film together.

Something was finally moving.

Birol Ünel came too late for the shoot, but maybe not, after all, you always have to wait a long time in a film.

Instinctively, he came at the right time, the camera stopped.

Birol Ünel stood in front of her.

You could tell that he had had a heavy night behind him.

Still, when the camera was rolling, I saw an incredible human depth, fragility and anger all at the same time.

He filled the whole picture, everyone next to him fading.

We looked forward to our cooperation and hoped that it would start soon.

But my directorial debut dragged and dragged on.

Finally, the preparations for Fatih Akıns

Gegen dieWand began


Birol Ünel finally got a story in which he could expand as an actor.

Anyone who says they only acted themselves has no idea about acting or is just jealous.

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The role that made him famous in Germany and beyond: Ünel as the suicidal Cahit in Fatih Akin's film "Gegen die Wand"

The film, which also made Ünel's film partner Sibel Kekilli internationally known, won the 2004 Berlinale Golden Bear.

In the film, the young Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) and the suicidal, drug-ill Cahit (Birol Ünel) enter into a fictitious marriage.

"Against the Wall" is considered to be one of the most important films in migrant cinema in Germany.

This also resulted in international film roles for Ünel, for example in "Not a Love Story".

Akin, Kekilli and Ünel celebrate their "Lolas" after being awarded the German Film Prize 2004 in Berlin.

"Against the Wall" was honored with five awards, including the two actor awards for Ünel and Kekilli.

A rather light comedy was Fatih Akin's "Soul Kitchen" from 2009. Ünel (far right) played the eccentric chef Shayn Weiss, who helps a run-down restaurant to become a success.

The film won the special jury award at the Venice Film Festival.

For his role, Ünel was advised by Hamburg top chef Ali Güngörmüş, among others.

Another self-destructive love story: In the French film "Transylvania" by Tony Gatlif from 2006, Ünel played alongside actress Asia Argento.

The film ran in official competition at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The young Ünel: 1998 with Stefanie Stappenbeck in "Tatort: ​​Engelchen flieg"

In Heinrich Breloer's two-part television series "Todesspiel" (1997), Ünel played the Palestinian hijacker of the "Landshut", Zohair Akache.

In 2008, Ünel played Katharina Thalbach's lover in Bernd Böhlich's film "The Moon and Other Lovers".

On September 3, Birol Ünel died in a Berlin hospital from complications from cancer.

In 2004 Birol Ünel finally had his long-awaited international breakthrough.

We were all happy for him, only he didn't want to take part.

He had shown everyone that acting is bigger than obsession.

My film debut failed me.

I went to the theater and BirolÜnel met me again on stage in the form of an opera play.

I staged the opera

Gegen die Wand

and Birol Ünel waited deep in my head.

Thank you for your energy, your courage and your inspiration, you great wild friend.

Now a person, a carpenter, an actor, an artist has passed away.

To where we will probably also go.

It is undeniable.

See you soon, Birol Ünel.