On 6 December 2008, police killed 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos while he was out with friends. His death prompted riots that set Athens ablaze and lasted three weeks. In this film, ‘children’ who witnessed his death and the running battles with the police, reflect on their worlds three years later, as they deal with Greece’s ongoing crises. This film gives voice to young people thrust into a conflict, which changed, and continues to change, their lives. We observe their lives and hear of their hopes, dreams and fears as they navigate uncertain futures through times of great upheaval.
Athens: Social Meltdown is part of an ongoing research project, which looks at the rapid structural changes that Greece is undergoing. The film contains videos and photos shot on the streets, often containing violence, and paints a portrait of widespread economic hardship endured by the city’s inhabitants.
Athens in the throes of economic crisis, one year after the June 2011 riots. Τhe legacy of December, June and Syntagma Square is still hard to assess. Future social struggles, however, are surely bound to approach it again, in order to understand and, finally, transcend it.
After the first austerity measures were implemented by the government, the people of Keratea, a small town next to Athens, decided to fight against the inevitable environmental degradation, the authoritarian practices of the state and the corporate interests behind the construction of a waste dump right next to their houses and farms.
Samir, Marwan Hamdan’s friend, was born and raised in Beirut, where he lived “illegally” with no civil rights due to his origins as a refugee. During his search for a ‘normal’ life and a sense of belonging, Samir was for a short period of time a member of the Lebanese Communist Party. After the defeat of the left, and feeling unable to relate to the real world, Samir creates his own alternative universe where victories are not impossible.
Two years passed since the filmmaker’s first visit to Aleppo. When he came back, several areas had been liberated and he was astonished to find that Al-Sha’ar market was still full of life’s colours, despite the barbaric attacks that turned Aleppo into a semi-ghost city. So he decides to make a film about this market to present a different side of the city far from what is promoted in the media.
Filmed over three years in Homs, Syria, the film accompanies two outstanding young men from the time they are dreaming of freedom and defending peaceful protests, to the time when they are forced to make different choices. The first is Abdil-Baset al-Sarout, the 19-year-old national football team’s goalkeeper who turned into an iconic leader and singer of the demonstrations in Homs, then became a fighter. The second is Ossama, a 24-year-old renowned citizen-cameraman a critic, satirist and pacifist until his views change when he is detained by the regime’s security forces.
It is the story of a city, which the world heard a lot about, but never really came close to.
Return to Homs is a modern-time epic of the youth during the war, forced to make choices.
Patras is one of Greece’s main ports on the Adriatic Sea, a few hundred kilometers west is the Italian coast. For the last 15 years, migrants have come to Patras because it is an exit gate, the last port of call for those hoping to carry on their journey to Western Europe. The film follows those who survive everyday life in Patras, who look back at the times when migrants made public demands, and wonder what the future holds.
Ayman Nahle’s short film turns us into witnesses of a phone call between Assad’s Secretary and White House staff as we watch Syrian refugees waiting at Izmir Garage in Turkey where every day, thousands of migrants are getting ready for the journey to the unknown.
In December 2010, thirty-five migrant workers went to the town hall in Ioannina, a small city in the west of Greece, and began a public hunger strike, which lasted 12 days. Their demand was to be paid for months of work at a large tomato plantation by their employer who had treated them as slaves. Their public protest made them visible and soon attracted the support of local people. Political support turned into personal relationships, which led to the formation of a community.
Activists, artists and researchers will share their experiences and perspectives on several aspects of migration and exile.
A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians who entered Europe after fleeing the war in Syria in Milan. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden – and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers – by faking a wedding.
This emotionally charged journey not only brings out stories of hopes and dreams, but also reveals an unknown side of Europe – a transnational, supportive and irreverent Europe that ridicules laws and restrictions of the Fortress in masquerade.
Filmed in Iraq and Syria, The Dupes is a masterpiece of Arab political cinema based on Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani’s 1963 novella Men Under the Sun. Combining innovative flashback and point-of-view narrative techniques, the film recalls the stories of three Palestinian refugees from different generations, drawn together in the suffocating heat of a steel tanker as they try to make their way across the desert to Kuwait for a better future. By subtly adapting Kanafani’s story to reflect the film’s contemporary political backdrop, director Tawfik Saleh extends the allegory to charge the era’s Arab regimes with hypocrisy and the issue of the need for popular mobilisation against political and economic injustice.
Reem al-Ghazzi regularly makes and posts short films, with images and music telling the story of her daily life in Damascus. She filmed Dewdrops with her mobile from her balcony.
Feb. 4th, 2011: The family is getting ready to demonstrate. The crowds go wild and scream: ”We want to bring down the dictatorship of Mubarak who humiliated Egyptians during the past three decades”.
May 27, 2011: Thirteen-year old Syrian boy Hamza al-Khateeb is shot and tortured to death in Dera’a. The Syrian streets rise up.
The film is a reflection on life, death and political commitment.
How do artists confront aspects of crisis, conflict and war? How does their involvement with the social movements politically and/or artistically influence their practices and production methods and vice versa? Which methods do they adopt or invent in order to produce art in such extreme circumstances and contexts?
Shot in the heart of Damascus during the beginning of the revolution, the movie captures daily Damascene life. While the filmmaker is completing his mandatory military service in the Syrian army, he goes back to his home, where he sheds his military uniform and returns to his civilian life, working as an assistant director to filmmaker Mohammed Malas.
To make sense of this schizophrenic situation, he decides to take his camera and starts shooting a ‘making-of’ that will eventually go beyond Malas’ film.
This collaboration between exiled Syrian filmmaker Ossama Mohammed and young Kurdish activist Wi’am Simav Bedirxan distills footage from thousands of clandestine videos, to create a shattering, on-the-ground documentary, chronicling the ordeal undergone by ordinary Syrians in the civil war.
What are the practical and symbolic meanings and uses of public spaces and how is the notion of ‘public’ re-conceptualised in periods of crisis? How do people react when public spaces are at stake and how do they claim them when they are threatened for economical and political reasons?
The War of Kings and Pigeons, 2014, a short movie shot in Beirut will be screened as part of this round table. Dalieh is a natural stretch of coast – one of the last accessible coastal areas in Beirut, inhabited by fishermen and their families. This popular recreational area is under threat of being privatised and closed off from the public.
Future Suspended explores the legacy of mass privatisation projects that preceded the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, looking at the ever-shrinking spaces of migrants in the city and the resulting devaluation of their lives. It also shows how, in the face of the crisis, this devaluation turns into a generalised condition. Future Suspended traces the rise of the authoritarian-financial complex and how this shrinks public space in the Greek capital, fuelling social despair and anger in return.
In 1995, five years after the declaration of the end of the civil war in Lebanon, speeches and photos of the reconstruction and the promises of the spring to come, overwhelm all the scenes and questions.
Is it really possible to reconstruct a country through privatisation and in partnership with those who destroyed it in the first place? At what cost?
The War of Kings and Pigeons is a short movie shot in Beirut, Dahlieh. Dalieh is a natural stretch of coast – one of the last accessible coastal areas in Beirut, inhabited by fishermen and their families. This popular recreational area is under threat of being privatised and closed off from the public.