Documentary Series / 2012 / 7 X 35 MIN.
“The Valley” is Senoz and is located in the remote hinterland of Çayeli in the province of Rize, a town on the Black Sea coast in the northeast of Turkey. There are tea fields on both steep sides of the Senoz River, scattered houses, tiny villages and people living in full harmony with nature.
Photos: Gülşin Ketenci
The valley inhabitants belong to the Hemshin, a small ethnical group of the northeastern Black Sea coast of Turkey. Their language is closely related to Armenian. As a matter of fact, they are Armenians who have converted to Islam. They still keep crosses of their ancestors in treasure chests, as well as old ruble notes from the Russian Tsarist Empire. The Hemshin went there to work. After the Soviet revolution the border was closed, the rubles saved became worthless. It was not until the middle of the 20th century that English biologists discovered the hinterland of the Black Sea coast, which gets a lot of rain, as an ideal place for tea production. After that, the people of Senoz were well off at first. They had work again and lived undisturbed among themselves in their natural wild valley. Even trees have names there, big trees on which they breed bees. The river and the rain play a central role in the valley. There are eleven names for water in their language.
A few years ago, a company obtained permission to build water dams along the Senoz. Small, but altogether 21 dams were to be built over a distance of 20 km so that only drops would hit the sea downriver. This would have destroyed the environment. The Senoz people fought back, both in court and on the street.
It was at this time that Nedim Hazar met the people of the valley and shot this seven-part series with his team, in which the Senozians play themselves - with “nature in the leading role”, according to Tayfun Atay, feature columnist of the daily newspaper “Radikal”. It is not published any longer. The people of the Black Sea coast are passionate and humorous. Such elements also flowed into the documentary series, which became NTV’s most successful series. Ratings wise, “The Valley” competed with other series and TV novellas. For example, the then Prime Minister Erdoğan, who is incidentally also from Rize, called the station late at night and complained about “normal people having their say”. The award-winning series ended after the seventh episode, earlier than planned.
Based on this popular documentary series, renowned actor Erdal Özyağcılar and Nedim Hazar developed the fictional entertainment series “Sevdaluk”, which took up the same theme. The new series was aired a year later on Show TV (21 x 90 min.), with Hazar acting as lead writer.
Director of Photography