After making its worldwide debut at the Cannes Film Festival in France, the film was shown at several international film festivals. It was released in Germany on 27 September 2007.
Retired widower Ali Aksu (Tuncel Kurtiz), a Turkish immigrant living in the German city of Bremen, believes he has found a solution to his loneliness when he meets Yeter Öztürk (Nursel Köse). He offers her a monthly payment to stop working as a prostitute and move in with him. After receiving threats from two Turkish Muslims for the work she does, she decides to accept his offer. Ali's son, Nejat Aksu (Baki Davrak), a professor of German literature, does not have time to respond to the prospect of living with a woman of "easy virtue" before Ali is stricken with a heart attack. He softens to her: he learns that she has told her 27-year-old daughter she is a shoe saleswoman, sending shoes to her in Turkey to support that story, and wishes her daughter could receive an education like his.
Back home from the hospital, Ali suspects Yeter and his son may have had a liaison. When his drunken demands of Yeter cause her to threaten to leave, he strikes her and she dies from the blow. Ali is sent to prison.
Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Yeter's daughter, Ayten (Nurgül Yeşilçay), and assumes responsibility for her education. Unable to locate her through her family and not having any recent photos of her, he posts flyers with Yeter's photo throughout the area, in hope that it will lead to the daughter. When he posts a flyer in a small German language bookstore that happens to be for sale, he finds himself charmed into buying it.Lotte's Death
A plainclothes officer loses his gun on the street during a riot. A hooded figure scoops it up and is pursued on foot by a battalion of uniformed officers, barely managing to hide the contraband on a random rooftop. This is Ayten, member of a Turkish anti-government resistance group.
When her cell is raided, she flees Turkey and takes up a new identity with political allies in Bremen, Germany. However, even there, she has a falling out when she is unable to pay them money she owes, and thus finds herself on the street with barely a euro to her name. Her mother's number is lost, so she lives illegally and searches for her in local shoe shops.
Lotte, a university student, offers to help her with food, clothes, and a place to stay—a gesture which is not particularly welcomed by her mother, Susanne. Ayten and Lotte become lovers and Lotte decides to help Ayten search for her mother. The quest is cut short when a traffic stop exposes Ayten's illegal status and she attempts a claim of political asylum. Despite Susanne's financial support, Germany rules that Ayten has no legitimate fear of political persecution. She is deported and immediately imprisoned.
Lotte is devastated. She travels to Turkey to try to free Ayten, but quickly realizes how little hope there is, as she is facing 15 to 20 years in jail. Susanne pleads with her to think of her future and return home. When Lotte refuses, her mother denies her any further assistance. Lotte gravitates to Nejat's bookstore and ends up renting a spare room from him.
Finally granted a prison visit with Ayten, Lotte complies with her imprisoned lover's request and retrieves the handgun Ayten grabbed in the riot. But Lotte's bag, with the gun inside, is snatched by a crew of boys that she then chases through their neighborhood. When finally she finds them in a vacant lot, one of them is inspecting the gun. She demands he return it, but he points it at her and fires, killing her instantly.The Edge of Heaven (literally, On the Other Side)
Upon his release, Ali is deported to Turkey, returning to his property in Trabzon on the Black Sea coast.
After her daughter's death, Susanne goes to Istanbul to see where her daughter had been living the past few months. She meets Nejat and reads her daughter's diary; she decides to take on her daughter's mission of freeing Ayten from prison. Susanne's visit to Ayten—an offer of forgiveness and support—leads the younger woman to exercise her right of repentance. As a result, she wins her freedom.
Susanne asks Nejat about the story behind a Bayram festival they hear about, learning that it commemorates Ibrahim's sacrifice of his son Ishmael. She comments that there is the same story in the Bible, where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Nejat reminisces about being scared by the story as a child and asking his father if he would sacrifice him if God told him to. When asked by Susanne what his father's answer was, Nejat tells her that his father said "He would make God his enemy in order to protect me."
Nejat removes the flyer of Yeter from the shop's noticeboard. He asks Susanne to look after his shop while he is gone, and drives to Trabzon, where his father is living.
Susanne offers Ayten a place to stay with her at Nejat's house. When Nejat arrives in Trabzon, his father is out fishing, so he waits for him on the beach.Tuncel Kurtiz as Ali Aksu, a Turkish immigrant to Germany
Baki Davrak as Nejat Aksu, Ali's son, a Turkish German university professor
Nursel Köse as Yeter Öztürk, a Turkish immigrant to Germany
Nurgül Yeşilçay as Ayten Öztürk, Yeter's daughter, a Turkish student and rebel
Patrycia Ziolkovska as Charlotte "Lotte" Staub, a German student
Hanna Schygulla as Susanne Staub, Lotte's mother
İdil Üner - Ärztin
Erkan Can - Cousin Ufuk
Turgay Tanülkü - Cem
Filming took place in Bremen and Hamburg, Germany; at Taksim and Kadıköy in Istanbul; and on the Black Sea coast in Trabzon, Turkey.
The film received generally positive reviews from Western critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 89% of critics gave the movie positive reviews, based on 61 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 86 out of 100, based on 24 reviews.
The film appeared on many US critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.
After winning the Best Screenplay Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, the film won the Lino Brocka Award in the International Cinema category at the 2007 Cinemanila International Film Festival in the Philippines. Five awards followed at Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (best director, editing, supporting actor, supporting actress and special jury award), and then it won:On 24 October 2007, the European Parliament's newly established LUX prize for European cinema;
On 10 November 2007, the Critics Award at the European Cinema Festival, in Seville;
On 1 December 2007, the best screenplay award at European Film Awards, with nominations for best director and best film;
In January 2008, the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics;
the Best Supporting Actress award to Hanna Schygulla from the National Society of Film Critics.