Eco-friendly Turkish mockumentary deals with corruption

The mockumentary genre has mostly been an unexplored territory in Turkish cinema, but now director Levent Soyarslan has made a foray into the genre with his and”O.H.A.: Oflu Hocayi Aramakand” (Searching for Oflu Hoca), keen to exploit the genreand’s potential for political criticism.
The film competed in the Antalya Film Festival national feature competition last October and garnered a Special Jury Prize. Sadly, the producers had to delay the filmand’s distribution date until this week due to a lack of slots available in national cinemas.
and”O.H.A.and” might not be a film that is stylistically awe-inspiring and it could really have been shortened in length, but nevertheless it is a humorous and strange and groovy experience that shows Turkeyand’s current unstable political disposition in a manner many Turks will relate to.
It all begins with a small documentary crew who approach the luxurious yacht belonging to real estate billionaire Ali Baltalioilu anchored near Heybeliada. The crew wants to make a nice mainstream, audience-friendly documentary about the modern legends of Turkeyand’s Black Sea region, thus they approach Baltalioilu because they want him to come on board as a sponsor.
Little do they know what they are getting into — Baltalioilu decides to fund them, but on condition that they also film and promote and”his visionand” of the Black Sea region, which in his mind is not only a natural landscape of forests inhabited by humble villagers, but a place where industry and commercialization are the priority, making it the and”touristic pearland” of the Middle East.
Baltalioilu is after big bucks with his massive real estate project, which he plans to build smack in the middle of Kaandckar National Park. We are shown his corporationand’s aertisement video in the first sequence of the film — one that is very much like a real-life ad by a construction conglomerate — starring its CEO galloping around on a white horse (thinking he is Fatih Sultan Mehmet) as he imposes and bellows his grandiose vision for the country. A vision of a massive influx of ugly concrete skyscrapers and shopping malls that shamelessly conquer green areas and open spaces, all the while pretending to be eco-friendly. Sound familiar to anyone?
The documentary team is a bit hapless and confused, but nevertheless they embark on their journey and their first mission is to find the infamous Oflu Hoca, an idiosyncratic character famous for consistently cursing. As the crew continues their journey, they run into the oddest and most eccentric people, mainly locals who represent the exact opposite of what Baltalioilu envisions for the region. The locals wish to live in harmony with nature and do not want their land to be confiscated and plundered by the likes of greedy money-men and corrupt government officials. In fact, one village has already formed a small army unit to protect their land against any possible gentrification and urbanization schemes. This is one of the funniest sequences of the film, in which a handful of village men and women are shown building and testing their weapons to prepare for any kind of possible attack, accompanied by a soundtrack of German techno beats.
Another great sequence is when a group of corrupt and self-congratulating old men accidentally eat the andquotspace cakeandquot baked by the young women who are protesting the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the forest. The men get high and find themselves in a psychedelic mind-trip exposing their most perverted and greedy desires — this part of the film is rendered in animation evoking the style of the and’70s.
Director Soyarslan is not afraid to point his finger at the and”New Turkey.and” He might be changing the names of the people in question, but it is all crystal clear: His criticism is towards the newly formed elite of contractors and builders working hand in hand with the authorities in order to fuel a bubble economy brought on by a mentality that has no respect for nature and basic human values.
At its heart and”O.H.A.and” wants to hit out at the prevalent neo-liberal capitalist system of the country. This is a film that deserves a chance at the box office. Its satirical approach is very accessible and its message hits the right note: If we donand’t protect nature, then thereand’s no way that itand’s ever going to take care of us.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman