In Greece there is often a Crisis. But when there is, there are the Greeks, resisting. The latest Crisis has reached the answering-back stage and has begun to take its place in a long history. This year’s films show what Silone called ‘the seed beneath the snow’ beginning to appear. Greeks are good at this. They invented Democracy but spent a good part of their history under dictatorships. They invented Theatre and still have to put up with Mamma Mia. And there they are – still standing.
We have Greek resistance all the way from Medea to the women political prisioners of the 40’s and 50’s and the complicated reactions now being worked out by all kinds of people for whom life has changed utterly. Greeks are, as they say, taking back control, but for them this means taking control of themselves, renewing and reinventing their culture. There are sad moments in these films and great courage - human accounts of a great culture in flux.
Friday 1 December at 20.30
Amerika Square Plateia Amerikis
Yannis Sakaridis •Greece/UK/Germany 2016 • Digital • 1h 26m •Greek with English subtitles
Cast: Makis Papadimitriou, Yannis Stankoglou, Ksenia Dania, Vassilis Koukalani
Nakos is bewildered. Life has not delivered on its imagined promises. He blames Life and - as usual - immigrants and off he goes on a moped and on a mission. His friend Billy has nothing against the unexpected, falls in love with Tereza, a black Greek-speaking migrant and helps Syrian Tarek and his daughter, desperately trying to get to Italy. This crisis – The Crisis – has generated its own instant clichés, behind which are the people to whom Sakaridis here gives human voices, credible lives and dramatic life. If you lived in Athens, these dilemmas could be yours.
Followed by a Skype Q & A with the director, Yannis Sakaridis
Saturday 2 December at 20.30
Medea Louder Than My Thoughts kreisson ton emon volevmaton
Nikos Grammatikos •Greece 2014 • Digital • 1h 33m • Greek with English subtitles
Cast: Nikos Hourmouziadis Vangelis Mourikis, Zoe Tounta. Drama Documentary
Medea is maybe the most potent and puzzling heroine of Greek Theatre, occupying the stage so powerfully, we think we know her and can judge her. Many have tried, from Pasolini to Liz Lochead.Grammatikos’s film gives us strong performances of the essentials of the play and takes us for a walk around it. Everybody has an opinion about Medea. Athenians interrupt their shopping to tell her off, sympathise with her or just wonder about her. Film people try to work her out, the great scholar Nikos Hourmouziadis talks as if he were talking to Euripides himself, a thing he often did on his visits to Edinburgh.
Grammatikos himself is still wondering. This is a conversation with Medea in which she – and Euripides - give us things to think about. She is part of us. It’s time we tried to understand her better.
The screening will be followed by a Skype Q & A with director Nikos Grammatikos.
Sunday 3 December 20.25
The Story of the Green Line Prasini Grammi
Panikos Chrysanthou • Cyprus 2017 • 1h53m • Digital • Greek, English, Turkish with English subtitles.
Cast: Mihalis Sofokleous, Cihan Tariman, Matthias Lier.
Cyprus, 1974. Things are already seriously wrong. A border crossing. Nobody crosses except the slightly bewildered conscripts who used to be Cypriot but are now compulsorily Greek or Turkish and who have been assigned to the wrong side of a border that, in their childhoods, did not exist. This gradual and civilised film observes the extraordinary everyday: conscripts who sing, people who love each other because they love each other, accidental soldiers, UN peacekeepers on bicycles with white flags, profound political stupidity, stubborn hope. Its advice: Be realistic, demand the impossible.
Followed by a Q & A with director Panikos Chrysanthou
Monday 4 December at 20.30
Beneath the Olive Tree
Stavroula Toska • USA/Greece (2015) • 1h 16m • Digital • English/Greek with English subtitles.
Narrated by Olympia Dukakis. Documentary.
Stories of the Greek Resistance to Nazi Occupation have often been told by visiting gentlemen for whom the natives were extras, and seldom mention how being in the Resistance more often led to prison than to a sinecure in government. During the 40’s and 50’s women of the Left were jailed on prison islands by the British-dependent government. The women wrote journals they buried under an olive tree. These were discovered years later and here the women tell their own stories, revisiting their old prisons and describing, as only they can, the detail and absurdity of the repression and showing us the spirit it takes to resist over a patient lifetime.
The screening will be followed by a Skype Q & A with Olympia Dukakis and director Stavroula Toska.
Tuesday 5 December at 20.45
Vassilis Mazomenos • Greece 2016 • Digital • 1h 28m • Greek with English subtitles
Cast: Anna Kalaitzidou, Tasos Nousias, Themis Panou
There is a helpline. It can’t help with what has happened to Greece, but people still ring. This beautiful nocturne of a film takes us into seven stories in which normality does its best to cope normally with challenges beyond anyone’s everyday skills. It is the kind of film you watch spellbound and sorrowful. Aristotle, who knew all about pity and terror, would have liked it. It’s a sad film and, like the best sad music, it fortifies you, inspiring feelings of sympathy, resistance and enquiry. The Greeks can still make great Tragedies. Maybe that’s where the recovery begins.
Wednesday 6 December at 20.30
The Listening Eye of Marianna Economou, 2 Documentaries,
Food For Love
Greece 2013 • 52m • Digital • Greek with English subtitles
My Place in the Dance Mia Thesi Sto Choro
Greece 2006 • 52m • Digital • Greek with English subtitles
You’ll have heard of the suitcase of mother-made moussaka airfifted to a faraway son who failed to collect it. Heathrow hasn’t smelled the same ever since. Economou collects stories and allows them to tell themselves - Greek mothers cooking for faraway children and connecting by food shuttle. Greek Mothers doing food, in spades. Then there’s the village that remembered how to dance. The women worked abroad, saved up and came home. Sometimes they wonder why. The village has fading traditions and some uncontrolled bagpipes. The women exchange songs and dances and organise. Things gather, fall apart and come together again. They dance. ‘If we don’t dance, we’ll fade away.’ This is Economou. You will hardly notice her but you will remember her women.
Followed by a Skype Q & A with director Marianna Economou.