This film tells two stories that converge after forty minutes. The first of these features Khaled, a Syrian refugee. A stowaway on a coal freighter, he ends up in Helsinki where he applies for asylum without much hope of success. Wikström, the second main character, is a travelling salesman peddling ties and men's shirts. Turning his back on his trade, he instead decides to put his poker face to good use at a gambling table and subsequently buys himself a restaurant in the remotest corner of Helsinki. When the authorities turn down Khaled's application, he decides to remain in the country illegally, like so many other people who share his fate. Going underground in the Finnish capital, he lives on the streets and encounters all kinds of racism, but also some cool rock 'n' rollers and genuine friendship. One day Wikström discovers Khaled sleeping in the dark backyard behind his restaurant. He provides him with a bed and a job. For a while, these two band together with the restaurant's waitress, the chef and his dog to form a utopian union – one of Aki Kaurismäki's typical communities bound together by fate which demonstrates that the world could and should be a better place.
Original Title: Toivon Tuolla Puolen
Country: Finland, Germany
Language: English, Finland, Arabic
Duration: 100 min.
Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki
Written by: Aki Kaurismäki
Produced by: Aki Kaurismäki
Director of Photography: Timo Salminen
Main Cast: Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen, Kaija Pakarinen, Niroz Haji, Janne Hyytiäinen, Ilkka Koivula, Nuppu Koivu, Simon Hussein Al-Bazoon
Aki Kaurismäki, born in 1957, grew up into "the age terrorized by the television", and has tried and managed to stick totally to the inseparable realities of the real world and the "deep screen" that only the 35 mm film - light against the electronic machinations, the beauty of artisan tradition against technological overkill - makes possible. He never used any other material, least of all video, and he is simply very proud for having joined in the continuity and tradition of "real cinema". His minimalist style is all his own (and that of the great cinematographer of all his films, Timo Salminen); he never entered the Finnish Film School (as he was suspected to be "too cynical"). At the same time his films are full of quotations (he mentioned Juha would have more than hundred) but always invisible, a part of a constant dialogue where particles of film culture reveal realities of human environment, society and psyche as it is now, and as it was during the tender years of Aki's childhood; only vaguely known to foreign spectators, there is always an overwhelming presence of Finnish typicalities, "objects of love" and references to well-known sources of Finnish literary evergreens, painting or of course popular music (or our beloved films).