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15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival By Ana Maia April 1, 2013

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.
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Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s 15th edition took place between the 15th and the 24th of March. More than 100 films were exhibited, many film directors and thousand of watchers were present in this edition and, of course, United Societies of Balkans, NGO, it was also present. Covering this very important event in the city was our radio team that did daily shows regarding the movies, peoples’ opinions about the movies and interviews with directors and also some of our volunteers have written some reviews for some of the movies they watched.

Here are the reviews from our volunteer Ana Maia, regarding three movies that were presented in the festival:

Food For Love

Directed by Marianna Economou

Food for Love is a documentary that portrays the relationship of greek mothers with their children living abroad. According to this documentary, some greek mothers cook food and send it to their children by post (usually students abroad) in a way to show their love and affection and also to give them a little taste of home.

This documentary had 3 main interest points: the relationship between mother and children nowadays, the relationship Greeks have with their home and their food and the phenomenon of many greek families supporting their children’s studies abroad.

For the first point, this documentary mentioned a big dependency between mothers and their children. That extreme interdependency was explained in different ways by the mothers that took part of this documentary: the need of appreciation, the sense of guilt and loneliness. One mother felt guilty for not sending her daughter to the university she wished she had gone, due to lack of financial conditions, so the mother tried to compensate the child in this way by sending her food, in order to show how she missed her and to give her emotional support. Another mother was divorced and running a monoparental family. This sense of not having a partner strengthens the bond between mother and child. This mother also acknowledged her fear of being alone in the future. The food she sent her child was in order to keep the memory of her connected with wellbeing. Another mother was sending her son food because she knew how fragile her boy was, with depressive tendencies and far away from home. While the family was struggling to support the boy, financially, the boy didn’t seem to be conscious of that and was asking for money on skype as if it was his right. This right was acknowledged by the family who promptly offered to make a bank transfer the next day. While the mother confessed that her life without her child in the house had bettered her marriage, the father was facing the fear of disappointing his son, by not being able to support him financially, as their financial conditions were getting worse.

The second point, connected with the relationship the greek people have with food, was mentioned that food is a connecting element in a family. Food is wellbeing and straightly connected with love. The act of cooking for someone is an act of love, so, for these mothers sending food is sending love and comfort to their children. Also a real sense of national identity was sent if those boxes of food, since mainly typical greek recipes were cooked by those mothers.

Many greek families send their children to study abroad. The universities in Greece have a limited number of vacancies, which makes it more difficult to enter them. These parents make an effort of giving their children a degree, even if it implies a great financial effort, still believing that a degree will grant them a better future. With the known economical crisis in Greece, the efforts of these families to provide education to their children increase.

This documentary reflects the structure of modern greek families, a very specific culture when it comes to the mother-child relationships in Greece and what parents consider to be their responsibilities towards their children nowadays.

Little Land

Directed by Nikos Dayandas

“Little Land” tells the story of Thodoris, a 35 year old IT engineer, who decides to move from Athens, his hometown, to a greek island named Ikaria, in search of a better future. According to Thodoris, living in Athens had become too heavy. The economical crisis has destroyed all sense of solidarity and cooperation in the city and for this reason he no longer recognized or belonged in Athens.

Thodoris bought himself a piece of land in Ikaria, dreaming of reconstructing the house and turning it into his home. He moved to the island.

Ikaria is a very special island, where people are known to live up to 100 years, in average. They are known for having no schedules, for their slow pace and for their very strong sense of community and solidarity. Thodoris moved to Ikaria hoping to find a more natural way of living, growing his own vegetables, living a simple life of work surrounded by people who would support him in exchange of his support.

The dream, though, seemed to be a little different from reality. Thodoris, due to inexperience and lack of help, had a hard time reconstructing the house in his land and decided to quit, moving into a rented bungalow in the island.

Being an ikarian was not as simple as Thodoris had expected. The lack of schedules for the opening and closing of the shops had a simple reason: ikarians are multitasked, they cannot afford to dedicate their time to one activity only, they would not survive. Each ikarian has several activities and those are not always paid with money. The exchange of goods and labour force is very common in the island. Thodoris had worked his entire life with computer science and had no clue about agriculture or any other activity, reason why he could be of little help in the island. Since he could not manage to grow his own vegetables, after some failed attempts, he decided to start fixing computers in the island.

Quite depressed, Thodoris gave up his dream for some time. Ikarians are known for having high longevity and for being extremely happy people. This happiness is not connected with their living conditions or with the amount of hours they work. It is related with a sense of having what is essential for living. A plate of food, some sort of roof over their heads and friends are enough to make an ikarian happy. This is what Thodoris came looking for in Ikaria, but instead he found some of his inabilities.

He later found other young people who had moved to Ikaria with the same purpose and all decided to form a community. This group of people would work all together for the purpose of planting, growing and selling their own vegetables. With help and understanding of the municipality they were allowed to explore a land that belonged to the state and to start their project.

This film speaks about the need of young generations to escape the cities, where it is more and more difficult to “breathe” or to succeed. It speaks about the dream of many young people to quit supporting the current ideal of modern life, connected with consumerism, with exploitation, with global economy, more and more with individualism and lack of solidarity and sense of community. In Greece, life has become extremely difficult for young people. The youth unemployment rates are at around 60%, now, and it is inevitable for youth to leave the country. Many go to other European countries in search of a career, others even to other continents; others decide to move inside their own country, looking for what the land can offer them, dreaming of a simple and happy life, with a plate of food, some sort of roof over their heads and with a great deal of friends.

Neo-Nazi: The Ηolocaust of Μemory

A documentary by Stelios Kouloglou

At the Doc Fest 15, in Thessaloniki, was exhibited, on the 19th of March, the documentary “Neo-Nazi: The Holocaust of Memory”, by Stelios Kouloglou.

The film describes all the atrocities that took place in two greek villages, Kalavryta e Distomo, perpetrated by the german nazi army and the greek collaborators.

Here is the synopsis of the film:

In a series of Greek cities that were destroyed by the Nazis and their Greek collaborators during the German occupation and whose population was annihilated, the Neo-Nazi party won a significant percentage in the recent elections. A film about Nazi crimes is screened at the school in such a town. Do the students know the history of their home town? How can it be that some of their parents voted for the political descendants of murderers? Or did the Neo-Nazis not actually do so well in the elections? A documentary within a documentary about memory and oblivion.

In the synopsis, Kouloglou mentions a documentary inside a documentary. It is in fact a documentary inside a documentary. A first version, strictly directed to past events in the two greek villages was shown to students at Dimitou’s shool.  The final version of the documentary includes the comments and reactions of those students, connecting it this way to the present.

Most of the film would not differ from any other typical II World War documentary, with testimonies of the survivors, with archive photography and footage of the atrocities. What sets the difference in this documentary is that it shows how unfamiliar this subject seems to be for young people in Greece and how this ignorance is related with the growth of Golden Dawn, an extreme right party that keeps on rising in every election in Greece.

Kouloglou chose to make an extremely emotional movie in order to shock and make people relate their feelings to the meaning of the words Fascism, Nazism, Golden Dawn.

This documentary makes a brief but impressive description of Golden Dawn by the actions and speech of its members, which are filled with intolerance and confusion.

The director has pointed other important subjects. Mostly the greek collaborators with the nazi regime were responsible for the massacres in the villages. Those massacres were impelled by anti-communist feelings and by the need of annihilation of the guerrillas that were trying to fight against the occupation. The greek people who belonged to these teams were never judged or paid for their crimes. Some of their descendants are nowadays members of the Golden Dawn party.

As a critic to this movie mainly two things can be pointed: the nearly cheap emotional usage of the music in the documentary is dangerous, as it can create a distance from the public, who less and less enjoy this sort of overemotional demand (Adagio for Stings by Samuel Barber, also known for being the main feature in the film Platoon was used in 7 minutes of the documentary). The second point is how misleading and poor is the synopsis of this film, that points questions that are barely mentioned in the film. There is a mismatch between the movie and its description, reason why the viewer could hardly expect to go and watch what, by 90%, a typical II World War documentary is. The name of the documentary refers to the present “A Holocaust of Memory”, but most of the film is centered in the past. Also it is mentioned in the film to be bad journalism the fact that most votes for Golden Dawn came from these villages (they come from that region, but not from the villages themselves), but the same misinformation is used as a trigger in the description of the film.

The importance of this film, nevertheless, is crucial in Greece, nowadays. It is important to remind the greek people what the Nazi occupation has done to the country and how inhuman it was.

This film has made clear how important it is to reinforce the study of the Nazi occupation in greek schools and how the study and understanding of History are necessary tools for young people to avoid the repetition of old mistakes and for the decrease of Golden Dawn.

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