EurActiv Awards Winners

Coffee Futures (Turkey)

Coffee Futures is a Turkish documentary film that weaves the fates and fortunes of individual characters with the story of Turkey’s decades-long effort to join the European Union. The promises and predictions of politicians, both foreign and domestic, are juxtaposed with the rhetoric and practices of Turkey’s everyday tradition of telling a person’s fortune from the grounds left after drinking a cup of Turkish coffee.

This widespread custom of “coffee fortune-telling” is an everyday communications tool in Turkey. Coffee fortunes are both a way of dealing with hopes, fears and worries and a way of indirectly addressing issues and topics that are usually left unspoken. Like any language, this communications tool has its protocols and linguistic rules. Simultaneously, each fortune-telling bears the distinct marks of the fortune-teller’s personal style and of the individual who is having his or her fortune told.

July 31, 2009 marked the 50th year anniversary of Turkey’s original application to join the elusive European Union (known at that time as the European Economic Community). On this long and seemingly endless path, the film echoes descriptions of this constantly invoked but still unattained future. Coffee Futures attempts to render the emotional texture of a society whose fate and “Europeanness” have been debated both nationally and internationally over a long period of time. The questions that it raises hint at the psychology of collective waiting and of anticipating a national future.

Within Turkey, Coffee Fortunes has the power to generate fresh debate on the tired subject of Turkey’s integration into the European Union. Three specific aspects of the film contribute to the debate on Europe in ways that are meaningful both nationally and across Europe:

1. Humour can be an excellent tool to generate debates that allow for innovative and fresh perspectives and discussions that go beyond polarized opinions and encourage flexible approaches.

2. Documentary film is a powerful media for national and international debates and one that attracts the attention of audiences, such as young people; who otherwise often do not feel impelled to participate in political debates on Europe.

3. The debate on Turkey’s EU accession concerns all European Union countries and this film can be used as a discussion platform across Europe. The issues of integration that are raised by the film are also felt in other candidate countries and in countries that have recently joined the European Union.

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