Video: Crisis Engenders Greek Documentary Boom

The 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – ongoing from March 15 to 24, 2013 – includes five crisis-themed Greek films [el] in its lineup, as was the case last year [el]. As the Festival, and Greece at large, continues to labor under the mounting debt and austerity crisis, fiction and documentary filmmakers alike are increasingly focusing their work on its effects on society.

This year, the Festival's poster and trailer feature a sheep whose blindfold is pulled from over its eyes by the deluge of images from a society in crisis:

Two of those documentaries to be screened this year, “Greedy Profit” by “Yannis Karypidis”, and “Cassandra's Treasure“, by Yorgos Avgeropoulos, focus on the conflict surrounding gold mining in the forest of Skouries in Chalkidiki, and how it affects local communities. Karypidis and Avgeropoulos have collaborated in the past, to produce an award-winning chronicle of the first successful breaching of the naval blockade around Gaza.

Stelios Kouloglou's “Holocaust of memory” traces the enigma around the virulent resurgence of Nazi ideology in a country, like Greece, that suffered so much at the hands of Nazis during World War II.

Not all crisis-themed films are downbeat. “Hardships and Beauties” tells the story of a modern-day Greek cowboy, an empirical philosopher and the owner of one of the biggest farms in south-western Greece, whose road trip into the heartland of Greece becomes a symbolic trip into a country that will never be the same again:

Living in Interesting Times follows four charming people living in a sunny but gloomy Athens. They are confronted by the harsh reality of the crisis; they have to fight for what is their due; they have to come to terms with absurdity

A web cottage industry?

Inside and outside the festival distribution track, documentary film-making in and about Greece in crisis is undergoing a boom, as affordable high definition cameras are becoming ubiquitous, and web-savvy young creatives and journalists -many of them returned from studies abroad- are putting their talents to use, chronicling the plight of their country and its’ people.

The trend started with “Debtocracy” and “Catastroika“, two web-published, Creative Commons-licensed, crowdfunded documentaries by journalists Aris Hadjistefanou and Katerina Kitidi, which attempted to chart the historical mutation of capitalism into the voracious debt “virus” attacking societies and countries today.

Last year, a group of 14 young photographers pieced together “The Prism“, a compelling, multi-hued, and competently filmed narrative of 27 multimedia stories, which they produced into a 63′ feature film called Krisis.

This year, several independent, web-based, documentary projects have emerged to fill the gap left by shrinking mainstream media coverage of the crisis’ effects on Greek society.

Debt Management” is a 42′ documentary in English by a group of young artists and scientists, living in Thessaloniki and collaborating for the creation of alternative documentaries, that explores this “symbolic war between people's determination to preserve common values, human conditions, rights and needs, versus an Orwellian financial world”:

The City at a Time of Crisis [..] is a research project that seeks to trace and research the effects of the ongoing financial crisis on urban public spaces in Athens, Greece.  It will comprise a holistic, cross-disciplinary study of changing notions of the ‘public’, with urban public spaces as its main research subject extending into areas related to ‘public interest’, ‘public security’, ‘public provision’ and the ‘public good’

Into the Fire [..] is an investigative documentary looking at the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece, in the face of severe austerity measures and rising racism. We spoke with refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and undocumented in Greece, to try and get an idea of the state of the asylum procedure in this European border country and what it is like to live in constant fear of being attacked – for having the wrong skin colour.

Portraits of Greece in Crisis is an ongoing project of multimedia stories, of people and constitutions that have been significantly affected by the crisis. It is an attempt to approach the greek crisis, as it is depicted in each portrait.

2 artists on a journey all around Greece aim to highlight the personal stories of the people of the land, and focus on the richness of human testimony. The Caravan project will compose a mosaic of images, narratives and documentaries, in order to emphasize a different way of life than the one systematically promoted by the media, and to shed light on a land that continues to create, dream, and proclaim that “Another World Is Here”!

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