‘Garbage in the Garden of Eden’


German-Turkish director Fatih Akin, best known locally for 2005’s excellent doc on Istanbul’s music scene “Crossing the Bridge,” turns his attention to a small tea-growing village called Camburnu on the coast of the Black Sea. This was the hometown of Akin’s grandparents, and it’s this personal connection that drove him to spend several years covering how the idyllic region was devastated when the government built a massive garbage dump there, resulting in this compelling documentary.

Camburnu is a place few will be familiar with, yet the story Akin presents is all too typical of our age: Bureaucrats ram through the dump plans while ignoring reasonable objections and existing regulations, construction is completed while the issue is still in the courts, work is shoddy and incomplete, then when heavy rains come the site seeps raw sewage through the village, creating a stench so foul the residents can’t even go outside without covering their faces.

Garbage in the Garden of Eden (Trabzon Kyoso Kyoku)

This being Akin, he fills the film with local musicians, festivals, home parties and all the color of richly preserved tradition; he celebrates the villagers’ resistance to their fate — with head-scarved grandmas getting in the faces of local politicians and the cops — even as he presents their chances of success as remote.