Films for social change: Discover 10 years of Cinema4aCause

January 10, 2024

Cinema4aCause is a pioneering giving program run by the Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF), crafted to shed light, through the power of film, on gender and education inequality in rural parts of Türkiye. Launched by BTF’s Chicago Circle in 2014, this program also serves as a dynamic platform for sparking meaningful dialogues on social issues while driving change by funding education scholarships.

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What is Cinema4aCause?

Cinema4aCause delves into the heart of societal issues in Türkiye, particularly focusing on education, women’s participation in workforce, and gender equality. Through carefully selected films that reflect the social, cultural, and economic realities across the country’s different regions, we aim to engage audiences who may be unfamiliar with these pressing concerns. Our goal is to educate, raise awareness, and expand perspectives, as understanding stands as the first step toward genuine transformation.

Through film screenings, we also generate financial resources to fund annual scholarships for underprivileged children and girls in Türkiye. These resources are funnelled through our carefully vetted and trusted local partners.

Progress through the years

The inaugural Cinema4aCause screening kicked off in Chicago during the International Women’s Week in March 2014, with “Evcilik” (Playing House) by Turkish film director Elmas Bingöl. The event attracted over 100 attendees and successfully funded the equivalent of 5 annual scholarships. Buoyed by this success, the BTF Chicago Circle started taking steps to turn the screening into an annual event whose proceeds would be fully dedicated to the Empowerment Scholarships program of the Bridge to Türkiye Fund.

Though the Cinema4aCause series faced disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to announce its return in 2024 with the screening of Feyza’nın Mutfağı (Feyza’s Kitchen). Find out more here.

The difference we have made

Cinema4aCause has been instrumental in generating essential scholarships for students in Türkiye, especially women, who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds in Türkiye. Each event makes a meaningful contribution to supporting equal opportunities in education, one film at a time. To date, Cinema4aCause has left a mark on the educational trajectories of over 400 girls in Türkiye by funding annual scholarships through film screenings.

You, too, can join us in this initiative! Be part of this transformative series by organizing a screening in your area. Stay tuned for the latest updates on how you can contribute to educational equality in Türkiye. 

2014: Evcilik (Playing House) by Bingöl Elmas

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In countries around the world, children play “house” – a game often scripted by their families and traditions. This film addresses the enduring issue of early marriage, a problem many believe to be a relic of the past, yet continues to cause deep harm. It tells the story of four individuals who were married at a young age and faced its severe consequences.

Research indicates that half of the marriages in Turkey are still early marriages. Contrary to common belief, early marriage is not confined to any specific region; it’s a national concern affecting all areas. According to international agreements, early marriage constitutes child abuse, a violation of human rights, and a public health issue.

One of the film’s characters poignantly remarks, “Marriage? Was it just a line of people waiting to torment me, or was it something else? I still can’t quite define it.”

The proceeds of this first-ever Cinema4aCause screening funded 5 annual scholarships for disadvantaged girls in Türkiye.

Click here to watch the trailer.

2015: Halam Geldi (My Aunt Has Arrived) by Sami Dündar & Erhan Kozan

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Directed and produced by Sami Dündar, the movie aligns perfectly with Cinema4aCause’s mission statement. Screened across two consecutive weekends in late January and early February 2015, the film was a resounding success. Both showings sold out completely and garnered highly positive reviews from the Turkish American community and other supportive groups in Chicago. By the end of winter 2015, thanks to the proceeds from Cinema4aCause, the number of annual education scholarships funded increased to eight.

Click here to watch the trailer.

2016: Yarım (The Half) by Çağıl Nurhak Aydoğdu

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The 2016 Cinema4aCause spotlighted the film “Yarım — The Half,” directed and produced by Çağıl Nurhak Aydoğdu. The film was showcased in 12 locations across the nation over nearly a month. The screenings were held in diverse cities including San Diego, New York, Pittsburgh, North Potomac-Maryland, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle, Michigan, Twin Cities, Portland, Fairfax-Virginia, and Maryland.

The screenings of this film funded 26 annual scholarships for underprivileged girls in Türkiye.

Watch the trailer or read more here.

2017: Yün Bebek (Woolly Doll) by Ümmiye Koçak

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“The Wool Doll,” crafted by the women of Arslanköy Village in Mersin’s Southern Province, is a film rooted in reality that tackles the critical issue of violence against women. At its heart is the story of Elif, a young farm girl residing at the summit of the Taurus Mountains. Trapped between the towering mountains and the suffocating dominance of her grandmother at home, Elif finds a glimmer of hope and joy in a baby doll belonging to her friend. This simple desire for a doll becomes her anchor, offering her a means to endure and navigate the challenges within her household.

A total of 16 screenings in 14 US states generated 81 scholarships for underprivileged girls in Türkiye.

Watch the trailer or read more here and here.

2018: Yapabilirsin (You Can Do It) by Tuluhan Tekelioğlu

“Yapabilirsin” (You Can Do It!) is a documentary about courage and hope, dedicated to the power of women. It is about accepting what it is or taking a step to change it. It is about nine women who decided to take a step to change their lives and acted courageously with their hearts and inner strengths with contagious optimism. They are true examples of what is possible when you believe in yourself. “You Can Do It” emphasizes the fact that you can change your life in the way you choose to, rather than being imposed on it by the traditional role of a woman — Tuluhan says.

You Can Do It screenings raised 102 annual scholarships for underprivileged girls in Türkiye.

Watch the trailer or read more here.

2019: Müzikli Bir Hikaye (A Story with Music) by Jale İncekol

“A Story with Music” (“Müzikli Bir Hikaye”) narrates the inspiring journey of a young music teacher who aspires to liberate children from the confines of rural traditions through music. This poignant film is the brainchild of Jale Incekol, a seasoned filmmaker with over 25 years of experience in the Turkish television industry.

The film’s central character, Aslı Tanrıkulu, is an ambitious young music teacher with dreams of becoming a musician in Istanbul. However, a compulsory teaching assignment in a remote village threatens to sidetrack her from her goals. Reluctantly, and at her father’s urging, she accepts a position at a middle school in Varto, Muş, a secluded village nestled in the mountains of eastern Türkiye, where students hail from 11 different villages. Aslı’s teaching journey begins with the realization that she is the school’s first music teacher and that her students have never been exposed to musical instruments. Quickly adjusting to village life, she begins to impact her students and their families with her fervent passion for music. Demonstrating resourcefulness and innovation, she encourages her students to craft musical instruments from household items like flour sieves, sheepskin, nails, strings, and wires, turning material limitations into a journey of creative discovery.

Watch the trailer or read more here.

2020: Bu İşte Bir Umut Var (There is Hope) by Jale İncekol

In 2020, Cinema4aCause proudly presented Jale İncekol’s latest documentary, marking the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Village Institutes in Türkiye. This poignant film captures the memories of teachers, casting real educators and students to mirror our recent history and illuminate our future. The documentary focuses on the premise that the revitalization of the country begins in rural areas, with education as the cornerstone of progress. This renaissance is attributed to the Village Institutes, which played a pivotal role in the community’s development.

These institutes offered a unique blend of practical and artistic education, teaching not only hands-on skills like horticulture, home economics, carpentry, livestock management, cooking, and home improvement but also providing classical music and creative arts education. Graduates of these institutes returned to their villages as teachers, passing on their diverse knowledge and skills to the next generation. The film highlights the profound impact of these institutes in shaping the educational and cultural landscape of rural Türkiye.

Watch the trailer or read more here


2024: Feyza’nın Mutfağı (Feyza’s Kitchen) by Jale İncekol

The newest feature of Cinema4aCause, “Feyza’nın Mutfağı” (Feyza’s Kitchen), shines a light on a unique local development project set in the charming town of Çeşme, one of Türkiye’s premier holiday destinations. This documentary delves into the story behind the Academy of Gastronomy, an innovative educational institution established under the auspices of Ege University’s Faculty of Tourism. It explores the Academy’s role in fostering culinary excellence and its impact on the local community, offering viewers a glimpse into a remarkable initiative that blends education, culture, and gastronomic artistry. The story also underscores the significant impact of making universities accessible to the general public, thereby reducing the divide between various socioeconomic classes.

Watch the trailer or jump to the Cinema4aCause 2024 page to find out more about this year’s Cinema4aCause program, events and film screening schedule. 

Organize a screening in your community

Want to organize a Cinema4aCause screening in your area and mobilize your community? Wherever you may be in the world, we are here to help!

While you enjoy hosting an event for a worthy cause, our dedicated team will stand by your side, ready to provide support for any administrative and logistical matters.

Here is how we can support you:

  • Event venue booking: Our team at Bridge to Türkiye Fund will give you hands-on support in finding and securing your desired venue for screening Feyza’s Kitchen.
  • Custom donation pages and ticket sale platforms: Our team can develop dedicated donation pages or ticket sale platforms for your events. These customized platforms facilitate the donation and ticketing process, providing attendees a user-friendly experience.
  • Social media promotion: Utilizing our social media channels and our extensive network of community members, we can actively promote your events to help you reach a broader audience. We aim to generate excitement, engage the local community, and boost event attendance and support.
  • Event branding and content design: Collaborating with your team, we can provide support in designing compelling visuals and drafting written content for your events. We aim to create an impactful branding strategy that effectively communicates your cause.
  • Acknowledgment of supporters: We highly value the individuals who attend or contribute to your events. We commit to ensuring that all supporters are recognized and appreciated, fostering a sense of community and gratitude.
  • Impact reporting: Transparency is of utmost importance to us. Following your event, we provide comprehensive impact reports that detail how the funds raised have been utilized in BTF’s projects. These reports offer clear insights into the tangible difference your event has made in the lives of children and communities.

If you would like to organize a Cinema4aCause fundraiser in your community, get in touch with us today: