Ocak is a short documentary film that explores the story of a family who earns their livelihood as hazelnut cultivators in rural north-eastern Turkey.

Filmed in an observational style, it offers glimpses into the local everyday life in the village and explores the relationship between people and their hazelnut gardens which have been inherited throughout generations. As the film reflects on labor and gender, it also asks questions about the heart, land and family.

Ocak hopes to challenge the all too prevalent mainstream narrative within the documentary media tradition, which frame gender dynamics in the Muslim Middle East simply as an oppressor-oppressed dichotomy.

By taking the audience closer to the daily worries and desires, joys and quarrels of the people on screen, Ocak provides an in-depth ethnographic understanding of life as lived by the members of this community.

The filmmaker’s close proximity with the people on screen also reveals the ways in which people reacted to the filmmaker's presence in the village, which subtly illustrates the underlying perceptions of class and gender in the wider Turkish society.

  • Zeynep Kaserci
  • Zeynep Kaserci
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes 19 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    0 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Zeynep Kaserci

Zeynep is a documentary filmmaker and researcher based in London.

Born in Izmir, Turkey, she moved to Scotland to pursue her undergraduate degree in art history and social anthropology at the University of St Andrews and completed her MA at the Granada Center for Visual Anthropology in Manchester.

In her media work, she is interested in exploring the poetics of everyday life and telling stories that humanise social issues.

She has done research on Mahayana Buddhism in Dharamsala, India (2016) and hazelnut cultivation in north-eastern Turkey (2019).

Zeynep hopes to make short films and documentaries that generate conversations and bring people closer together.

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Director Statement

Ocak was submitted as part of my Masters thesis at the Granada Center for Visual Anthropology in Manchester, UK.