Ernest Callenbach’s futuristic novel Ecotopia, describes a model society known as ‘Ecotopia’ which straddles a few of the northern states of the USA. Here, the lifestyle is based upon the use of renewable energy and video conferencing; television is used for democratic purposes, monogamy is discouraged and invading forces are deterred with high-technology defence systems. In the Europe of today, the term ‘ecotopia’ is applied to far more modest and anarchistic communities and developments. Yüksel Aksu’s ‘Ecovillage’ is an ecotopia where a group of city intellectuals occupy themselves with organic farming and environmental tourism as well as arts and crafts. Paying good money, they buy up some of the land owned by Efeköy, a village in the Aegean region, complete with its old stone houses, the villagers’ much abused donkeys, as well as kilims, saddlebags and copperware not used by the locals. So far so good; but when the villagers, long divorced from the traditional rural way of life, are presented with the chance to make more money, things start going awry, and a conflict erupts which threatens the anarchist eco warriors’ entire project. Director Yüksel Aksu constructs the film in the form of an ancient comedy; he creates powerful humour which gains in equal amount from his knowledge of the political arguments and local culture as from his command of local dialect. Ecovillage draws its strength from the text, giving precedence to dialogue over action, and Aksu has no qualms about engaging in a micro clash of civilizations. That said, he uses a number of strategies to camouflage the conflict, incorporating a romance that looks as impossible as the legends of Greek mythology, a fiesta of music and folk songs, and altercations that drip with profanities somehow made endearing by an Aegean accent. And all the while, he delivers a less than playful criticism of the erosion of values marking a particular group in society. Alin Taşçıyan

Yüksel Aksu

Yüksel Aksu

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