The film, which according to Rekin Teksoy, writing in Turkish Cinema, "focuses on the identity crises faced by German youth from various ethnic backgrounds," was the feature debut of the German-born director of Turkish descent and is said to have "represented a new German-Turkish cinema."
Gabriel (Mehmet Kurtuluş) the Turk, Bobby (Aleksandar Jovanović) the Serb and Costa (Adam Bousdoukos) the Greek are three friends who used to form a neighborhood gang in Altona district of Hamburg. Following his release from prison Gabriel is ready for a new start on life. Bobby however has been doing jobs for crazed Albanian mobster Muhamer (Ralph Herforth) and his girlfriend Alice (Regula Grauwiller) turns to Gabriel for comfort. When Costa who has turned to petty theft and is dating Gabriel's sister Ceyda (İdil Üner) also joins Muhamer's gang, Gabriel intervenes to save his friends, an action which puts his dreams of retiring to Turkey at risk.
The film's director, Fatih Akın, makes a cameo appearance as the drug dealer Nejo.
Mehmet Kurtuluş as Gabriel
Aleksandar Jovanović as Bobby
Adam Bousdoukos as Costa
Regula Grauwiller as Alice
İdil Üner as Ceyda
Ralph Herforth as Muhamer
Fatih Akın had been working on the screenplay for this film, which was his feature debut, while he was studying at the Hamburg College of the Arts (HFBK) and working on his earlier shorts Sensin... You're the One! and Weed. The success of these shorts allowed him to secure funding from the Hamburg-based film production company Wüste Filmproduktion for this film, which was shot on the streets of Altona in his hometown of Hamburg.
The film was premiered at the 1998 Locarno International Film Festival and was screened at the 1998 Hamburg Film Festival before going on general release across Germany on 15 October 1998.
Following the release Akın said of the film, inspired by the work of Italian-American film director Martin Scorsese, that, “It took Scorsese and the other Italo-Americans 70 years to start making their films. The Maghribi-French needed 30 years for their cinéma beur. We were much quicker. We’re already doing it!”
Katja Nicodemus gave it a favorable review in Magazin-Deutschland, saying the film "represented a new German-Turkish cinema".
Awards and nominations
1998 Locarno International Film Festival
Best Actor: Aleksandar Jovanovic, Adam Bousdoukos & Mehmet Kurtuluş (won)
Golden Leopard: Fatih Akın (nominated)
1998 Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Best Actor: Mehmet Kurtuluş (won)
Golden Alexander: Fatih Akın (nominated)
1999 Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Director: Fatih Akın (won)
1999 German Film Award in Gold
Outstanding Feature Film (nominated)
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Direction: Fatih Akın (nominated)
1999 Angers European First Film Festival Jean Carment Award: Aleksandar Jovanovic (won)
1999 Festival de Film d'Adventures de Valenciennes Distribution Award (won)
2001 Adolf Grimme Award for Fiction/Entertainment: Fatih Akın, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Adam Bousdoukos & Mehmet Kurtuluş (won)