Villagers in Turkey’s Black Sea village of Çamburnu, the home town of Fatih Akin’s (Soul Kitchen, The Edge of Heaven) grandparents, struggle with the government’s decision to turn their community into a garbage dump. Polluting Paradise is a remarkable portrait of a Turkish community far removed from the major urban centres and a moving plea for civil courage.
Official Selection Festival de Cannes 2012
Country of Origin: Germany
Language: German w/ English subtitles
Duration: 93 minutes
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Fatih Akin, the people of Camburnu, Turkey
Australian release: 2013
‘a heartfelt documentary’ – The Hollywood Reporter
Çamburnu 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 polluting, 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 love their livelihood. The consequences are devastating and clearly evident for everyone to see and yet tonnes of waste continues to be dumped in the landfill every day.
In 2006 award-winning filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On, Soul Kitchen) went to Çamburnu, his grandparents’ 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 centres and a moving plea for courage.