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2 Votes (2)
Polluting Paradise (2012)
Der Müll im Garten Eden (original title)
Documentary, 98 min
Production countries   Germany,Turkey
Language   Turkish
Director   Fatih Akin
Scriptwriter   Fatih Akin
Producer   Klaus Maeck
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Camburnu is a small mountain village in northeastern Turkey. Blessed with the Black Sea’s mild and humid climate, its villagers have lived for generations off tea cultivation and fishing in harmony with the nature surrounding them. But this idyllic landscape is threatened by the government’s decision ten years ago to build a garbage landfill directly above the village. Despite protests by the mayor and the villagers, a waste disposal facility has been built that does not comply with the most essential security and building standards and since then has continued to pollute the environment through persisting accidents and disasters. The air is polluted, the ground water is contaminated, the annual rains flush the waste down the slopes, and flocks of birds and stray dogs have besieged the village. The tea growers, whose plantations lie beneath the landfill, have lost their livelihood. The consequences are devastating and clearly evident for everyone to see and yet tons of waste continues to be dumped in the landfill every day. In 2006 award-winning filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On, Crossing the Bridge – The Sound of Istanbul) went to Çamburnu, his grandparent’s home village, for the first time to shoot the finale of his film The Edge of Heaven. When he learns of the impending environmental disaster, he decides to take action in the best way he knows how. Over a period of more than 5 years, he documents the small village’s struggle against the country’s powerful institutions and records the inevitable disasters that consistently plague this former paradise. Polluting Paradise  is a remarkable portrait of a Turkish community far removed from the major urban centers and a moving plea for civil courage.
The Protagonists
Mayor Huseyin Alioglu  
Huseyin Alioglu is a member of the ruling party AKP and the mayor of the village of Camburnu. He fights against the central government’s decision to build a waste landfill above the village. Though he represents his party’s politics, he doesn’t stand by its decision as it becomes evident that grave mistakes are being made during the construction of the landfill and that construction standards are not being met. As a consequence of his commitment, Huseyin Alioglu is being charged with the prevention of state interests.

Bunyamin Seyrekbasan  
The hobby photographer is the chronicler of the village. Over many decades, his camera has captured all the important events held in the village such as weddings, parties etc. As Fatih Akin and his team were not able to immediately respond to events as they were happening, Akin integrated Bünyamin Seyrekbasan into his team and taught him how to use a film camera. Over the years, Bünyamin Seyrekbasan has evolved into an excellent cameraman, shooting much of the footage in the film.

Nezihan Haslaman
The tea farmer was one of the most active resistance fighters. She mobilized the other women of the village and organized demonstrations. In 2011 she died of a heart attack during filming.

Sabahat Haslaman, Suna Haslaman
Sabahat Haslaman and Suna Haslaman are Nezihan’s two daughters. They inherited the tea plantations and can’t imagine living anywhere else but Çamburnu.

Azize Seyrekbasan, Furkan Seyrekbasan
Furkan is the son of Bunyamin Seyrekbasan, the village photographer. Like his cousin Azize he has left Camburnu. He now lives in Istanbul and Azize lives in Ankara. Both see no future for themselves in the village.

Ismet Bodur  
The landfill was built less than 50 meters away from İsmet Bodur’s house. Despite the unbearable stench, Bodur has chosen to stay. He still takes care of his garden; every morning he picks up the garbage off the ground and removes the plastic bags that the wind has blown into the trees. The plants in his garden are at risk from the contaminated groundwater.
Technical Specifications Image / Sound
Color / Black & White   Color
Sound format   Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio   1.85:1
Production country
Official web site
Films of Fatih Akin
Short Sharp Shock
In July
Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul
The Edge of Heaven
Soul Kitchen
Polluting Paradise
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