In the sixties Romano Amato, his wife Rosa and their two sons Giancarlo and Gigi emigrate from Solino in Italy to Duisburg in the Ruhr area and establish the first Pizza restaurant in town. Their business emerges well and both children get used to Germany. 10 years later the brothers fall in love with the same woman; they break tie with each other in anger and Gigi returns to Solino with his mother. A decade later both meet again and have a retrospect on their lives.
In Hamburg, Zinos has a restaurant serving poor-man’s fare; he gets by, but his girlfriend has taken a job in Shanghai, he’s hurt his back and can’t cook, his feckless brother can be on daily parole from jail only if Zinos employs him (though his brother doesn’t want to work), a school acquaintance wants to buy the restaurant property, and the tax authority and health inspector are on his case. Zinos hires a temperamental chef and loses all his customers, signs a power of attorney giving his brother full authority at the restaurant, and buys a ticket to Shanghai. Is this a recipe for disaster?
Daniel is a young teacher in-spe, who in contrast to everyone else plans to stay in Hamburg for the summer. Juli, a girl at the flea-market, wants to get known to Daniel and manages to sell him a Mayan ring with a sun on it, foretelling him that he will meet a girl with a sun. One day later Daniel is already on his way across Europe. It seems the prophecy came true somehow.
Nejat seems disapproving about his widower father Ali’s choice of prostitute Yeter for a live-in girlfriend. But he grows fond of her when he discovers she sends money home to Turkey for her daughter’s university studies. Yeter’s sudden death distances father and son. Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Yeter’s daughter Ayten. Political activist Ayten has fled the Turkish police and is already in Germany. She is befriended by a young woman, Lotte, who invites rebellious Ayten to stay in her home, a gesture not particularly pleasing to her conservative mother Susanne. When Ayten is arrested and her asylum plea is denied, she is deported and imprisoned in Turkey. Lotte travels to Turkey,where she gets caught up in the seemingly hopeless situation of freeing Ayten.
With the birthday party of the most beautiful girl in the whole class coming in less than three weeks and the beginning of the summer holidays, Maik, a diffident 14-year-old teenager, has definitely a lot on his mind. To make matters worse, Maik’s mother, a caring but alcoholic tennis nut, is in-and-out of the beauty farm aka the rehab facility, and his father, who is a real estate developer, is simply indifferent. Under those circumstances, the unexpected arrival of a new classmate, Tschick, will create quite a stir when the two class rejects will boldly decide to hit the road in an old “borrowed” light blue Lada, going from uncool to cool in a split second. As they set off on an unforgettable joyride in East Germany’s great outdoors, without a cell phone or a map, the boys will learn about self-confidence, mutual friendship and the excitement of youthful love, in what will be, hands down, the best summer ever.
Eleven vignettes, all homages to New York City life, are presented. I. Ben, a pickpocket, is attracted to Molly on first sight, and gets into an interesting “pissing match” with Molly’s married lover, NYU professor Garry. II. Mansuhkhbai, an orthodox Jain diamond wholesaler, and Rifka, an orthodox Jewish diamond retailer who is getting married tomorrow, learn that they have more in common than just diamonds. III. David, a musician and music editor for a video being directed by Abarra, is having problems meeting Abarra’s demands while he slowly falls for Abarra’s assistant, Camille, who he’s never met but has only talked to on the telephone solely about work. IV. A young man believes he’s made a powerful connection to a stranger, a young woman, in the simple act of lighting her cigarette, and proceeds to convince her of the same and as such that there is a future for them from that point on, and not at some unspecified time down the road. V. A high school senior, who has been dumped by his girlfriend just before senior prom, is given a gift by his local pharmacist, Mr. Riccoli, the senior not understanding the full implication of the gift until the full process of prom night is over. VI. Each on their way to their first official date together after what started out solely as a one night stand, Gus and Lydia each contemplate not keeping the date. VII. Isabelle, a retired opera diva, has returned to a hotel where she’s stayed many times and where she has strong memories of encounters with a young bellhop. VIII. In brown skinned Dante and white skinned young adolescent Teya spending time together in a park, most outsiders see a manny and his charge, not realizing the true nature of Dante and Teya’s relationship. IX. In questioning why one of her elderly Eastern European customers chose her as the wanted subject for his next painting, a young Chinese herbalist may be inspired to create some art of her own. X. Anna, who meets Alex by chance on the street each going about their individual business, asks him a question, she having an ulterior motive while expecting a totally different reaction from him contrary to her motive… maybe. XI. Abe and Mitzie are spending their 63rd wedding anniversary together, not always harmoniously. Interspersed between these eleven vignettes are even shorter ones, often tying together to another or to one of the eleven primary ones in some manner.
In ‘Gegen die Wand’ Cahit, a 40-something male from Mersin in Turkey has removed everything Turkish from his life. He has become an alcoholic drug addict and at the start of the movie wants to end it all. Sibel a 20-something female from Hamburg wishes to please her Turkish parents yet yearns for freedom. She has had her nose broken by her brother for being seen holding hands with a boy and yet she can not break her mother’s heart and run away. She too attempts suicide and she first approaches Cahit there at the Hospital. Sibel asks Cahit to marry her, as she believes this to be the way out of her parent’s house. She promises Cahit that their relationship will be like roommates, not like a married couple. The film follows Sibel and Cahit as they get married, become closer and eventually fall in love.