• Random Quote

    Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.

    — George Carlin

Dogs of the Dream Forest

Continuing with the accidental dog theme, here is a video documentary about the many, many hundreds of Turkish street dogs dumped into the forests outside Istanbul, and the efforts of volunteer groups to sustain and protect the dogs.

Like many countries, Turkey has been largely tolerant of ‘street dogs’. In recent years, however, some Istanbul municipalities have started removing and dumping the dogs in the forests. Many irresponsible pet owners and dog breeders abandon animals there as well.

Artist and animal rights activist Fey Rubeyi became deeply concerned over the fate of these abandoned dogs. On a visit to Istanbul in September 2014, she went out with a rescue group ‘Grumpy Old Dog’ to document the lives of the dogs. Fey, who was born and educated in Istanbul, shot the footage with a small Panasonic handycam and her iPhone. She now lives and works in California as a graphic artist.

The dogs have mainly been dumped in the Beykoz forest and Hayal Ormani (Dream Forest) on public owned property. In this terrain, the dogs cannot survive without human support to provide food, water, and shelter. Food sources are insufficient in the forests, and during the hot, dry months there is no drinking water. The dogs are sometimes harassed and even poisoned by hostile people. Cars and trucks are a grave threat to the dogs when they appear on roads searching for food and human contact.

Several dedicated groups of Turkish volunteers, primarily working from donations, have grown up to aid and support the dogs. Aside from providing food, medicine, water, and protection, they are sometimes able to find adoptive homes for a handful of the dogs.

Many of the dogs have frozen to death in the harsh Turkish winters, and some rescue groups maintain an active dog house construction program to help keep the dogs alive in a severe environment. The Beykoz Hayvan Rehabilitasyon Merkezi (Animal Rehabilitation Center), which is located nearby, helps provide medical care for the legions of dogs.

The documentary narration is in English with Turkish dialogue. There is also a second version posted on the account with a Turkish narration, which is titled: Hayal Ormaninin Köpekleri — Dogs of the Dream Forest. To view that version, please contact me.

The video was edited by Randy Graham in 2015.

For more information you can contact me on this site using comments or the contact link.



Little Kabul – An Afghan-American Community

One of the most fascinating aspects of documentary video production is the opportunity to meet remarkable people and explore issues that are far outside the orbit of one’s mundane life. Working with director Amina Zamani as a videographer (and later editor) offered me a chance to meet many Afghan-American people, and hear a range of personal narratives describing their culture, the challenges of immigration, and the ordeals of a war torn country. Older people suffered language difficulties or culture shock while younger people strived to hang onto the traditional while living with new paradigms.

Because of 9/11, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, anti-Muslim hysteria — there is much misinformation that has dominated discussions in politics, the mass media, Hollywood, etc. Having a chance to meet and listen to actual people discuss their lives is a powerful antidote to distortions and stereotypes. Many of the people we interviewed were women– and far from being shrinking violets in burqas — most stressed their independence and thoughtful engagement with the wider world.

It was enjoyable to attend and videotape at the NowRoz Festival in Pleasanton, California. Outside my role as a videographer, the chances are minuscule that I would have attended the Festival on my own. (I had never heard of it before the start of the project.) It was edifying to see Afghan-Americans enjoying picnics with their families, celebrating food and culture, and listening to Afghan pop music without a dour “terrorist”in sight. Although most people appeared to be of Afghan heritage, it was clear that everyone was welcome.

The requirements of the video production offered me a great chance to learn about Afghan culture and history while listening to the personal stories of many engaging people. It’s an enlightening experience.