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Our Hodja (2014)

Bizum Hoca (original title)
Bir hocanin basindan gecenler

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Cast

Credited cast:
Seymen Aydin
Erdem Bas
Alay Cihan
Volkan Girgin
Ozge Gurel
Samil Kafkas
Sabriye Kara
Israfil Köse
Tahsin Taskin
Fatih Topcuoglu
Mehmet Usta
Adem Yilmaz
Serhat Özcan
Levent Ülgen
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Bir hocanin basindan gecenler

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Comedy

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7 March 2014 (Turkey)  »

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Our Hodja  »

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A hilarious,albeit a predictable, film about a witty imam and his conservationist congregation
5 March 2015 | by (Türkiye) – See all my reviews

Bizum Hoca (Our Hodja) tells the story of Balck Sea villagers fighting against the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the region. The temporary local imam, who is the leading character in the film, is probably based on a legendary imam who comes from the region. According to local lore, this guy is still known as 'the hodja from Of' (a district of Trabzon) and his sermons were said to be unpredictably witty and satirical as well as eloquent.In the film, the hodja from Of is not actually on the permanent staff. The locals need him because he's the only one who can help them sort out their petty differences—well at least until the government sends an official imam to the local mosque.One day,when the villagers notice earthmovers working by the very creek which gives live to their village, it's the quick-witted imam's duty to impress his congregation upon the cons of those plants. In today's Turkey, which has been governed by 'supposedly liberal' Islamists for more than ten years now, not a day goes by that we don't witness a new threat to environment. Turkey's recent obsession with economic growth has been destroying grasslands, coastal areas, marshes and rivers. These economic policies are formulated by a pro-Islamic government who claims that they are the true representatives of a prophet who once said: 'Even if the Day of Judgment unfolds before your eyes, and you have a seedling in your hand, go ahead and plant it…' In that sense, the film Bizum Hoca shows the exact difference between true Islam and the Islam imposed by an authoritarian state. On one hand we have an Imam who hasn't got any formal education. His understanding of religion is all about love of humanity and nature. On the other hand we have an official imam with a formal education whose understanding of religion is all rules-based or ritual-based. For instance, at some point in the film when one of the locals ask the imam 'Are we going to march and demonstrate every day like this? We all turned into communists in the end.' the imam wittily answers 'Is fighting for one's rights only for communists?' At another point in the film when the official imam wants the locals not to pay attention to the local talent show just because he thinks it causes an erosion of morality and humility, Our Hodja says 'in the time of our Prophet, there used to be nice entertainments organized.I mean Islam doesn't mean a grumpy face, you've got to laugh. Smiling is the charity of human face, isn't it my dear?' Some people may claim that the film's theme is a serious one and it should not be played down in such a light hearted comedy. I say, let's not forget that comedy is the only genre which gets highest chance of success at the box office in this country. It may be light hearted but it is certainly not a bad comedy. We should bear in mind that imams in Turkish movies have been mostly stereotypical, cardboard characters until recently. We need more unconventional men of religion on silver screen. (see also Onur Unlu's Itirazim Var) Bizum Hoca has a funny yet thought provoking story. It has a truly stellar cast. With better prepared subtitles on DVD even a foreigner would have enjoyed this film. Having said that, I wish they had not commercialized the movie this much. I could not help noticing that some of the sponsors rolling in the credits are actually the sponsors of the government who has backed the sort of companies the film tries to criticize.


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