Dowsing the Past: Reflections on Film, Ethnography and Historical Imaginaries in Thessaly
How might an ethnographic film practice explore and collide with local historical imaginaries pertaining to rupture and the Civil War? How can film style and structure articulate local experiences of the past and textures of daily social life? Drawing on fieldwork in central Greece (2010 to 2015), my paper explores these questions in relation to the ethnographic documentary “Dowsing the Past: Materialities of Civil War Memories”, which I directed in 2015. The paper examines the relationship between landscape practices and social memory and attempts to think how film may capture and communicate this relationship. The paper especially thinks through the ability of particular film strategies and styles in opening up experiences of remembering and material culture. The paper also explores the potentialities emerging in the ethnographic encounter between senior local men, archaeologists and Athens-based filmmakers. The talk will combine textual presentation with the screening of film material.
(University College London)
Visual and Material Displays of Migration Histories in Museums/ Exhibitions in Germany
In my research, with the use of ethnographic-oriented and qualitative methods I will try to explore stereotypes, challenges and possibilities on displaying such a terminal and multi-layered experience as migration, in both its historical and up to date socio-economic dimensions in museum and Heritage sites. Additionally, I delve into issues of symbolic and material borders produced by actors of national/diaspora identities, perceptions of memory and ‘homeland’.
Particularly, my on-going ‘multi-sided focussed ethnography’ (case study: post-war Greek labor
migration in West Germany, 1960-1973) in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich can be placed in an effort to explore this on-going critical dialogue between oral-histories/testimonies, social memories, materiality, visual sources1, objects as ‘mnemonic devices’ (Jones 2010) and archive – be it official or unofficial documents – in its multiple layers and formats, and how these various ‘voices’ and agencies from both, unofficial and official sources, resonate with museum practice and displays regarding that often under-represented historical period.
Through this notion of a ‘polyphonic’ and polyprismic’ archive, or a ‘Heter-archive’2 it will be possible to describe spherically and comprehend ‘the multiple materialities of migrant worlds’ (Basu, Coleman 2008), as well as enhance the notion of a dialogue-driven museum (Harrison, 2013), thus activating the ‘affective’ qualities of Heritage (ibid.).
Finally, this project, aiming to disrupt the authority of monolithic, linear and national-hegemonic curatorial narratives can be placed in the on-going public discussion on the ‘shift of perspective’ of the current topic of ‘migrations’ in Germany. Such a critical ‘paradigm shift’ can be anchored and implemented in the context of museographical practices in Europe.
1 One of my methods includes critical analysis of visual material (10 documentaries, films, newsreels) in order to observe and decipher representational figures and narratives, visual iconography, motifs of the “Greek labor Migrant” in Germany.
2 s. ‘Heterotopias’, Foucault, 1968; ‘Chronotopos’, Bachtin, 1973; ‘Mnemotopos’, Ruibal 2008.
“Attenberg”: Nature Documentaries and the Performance of Becoming (-Animal)
Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg owes its title to the mispronunciation of the name of the man whose celebrated BBC nature documentaries were a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making: Sir David Attenborough. Marina, the central heroine of the film, has been avidly watching these documentaries with her father while growing up in an industrial town. Her father, a terminally ill cancer patient, is attempting to prepare Marina for the practicalities of his imminent death, through thorough accounts of the materiality of the human body. Marina struggles not only with the prospect of taking care of his dead body, but also with the delayed sexual awakening of her own young, living, female body. In fact, the film begins with a close-up of Marina and her only friend, Bella, experimenting with a French kiss that resembles the mating of animals, to a comic effect. Attenberg is a deliberately corporeally invested film, where living and dead human bodies meet with cinematic animal bodies, in a performative process of becoming(-animal).
(Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Architecture)
Sporting Queerness: Film Sports as Documentaristic Incidents in ‘Greek Weird Cinema’
Film and sports may be considered genealogically interrelated dimensions. Both moving images as new media/arts and modern competitive sports as mass phenomena did emerge almost simultaneously: Little more than three months after the first public film screening by the Lumières in 1895 the first modern Olympic Games were being held in Athens. Ever since, sports are inextricably linked with their mediation and might thus be collectively defined as ‘media sport[s]’ (Wenner 1998). In addition to these concepts and in contrast to generic approaches to film and sports (Poulton/Roderick 2008) I propose to reconceptualize their interrelation: Instead of focusing on ‘sports films,’ my research takes into account scenic incidents of ‘film sports’ in films not primarily concerned with sports.
Moreover, film and sports are constitutively connected by way of their mutual figurations of difference. Even on a technical level, film is essentially a medium of differentiation; competitive sports, constantly oscillating between winning and losing while routinely distinguishing genders, are structured by differentiation as well. Supplemented by the twofold reliance on bodily/corporeal performances, cinematic depictions of sports hence can be deemed condensed sites of un/doing difference.
Films of the ‘Greek Weird Wave’ pivotally address and rethink queerness (Psaras 2016). In this sense, contemporary Greek cinema is crucially concerned with (re)figurations of differentiation, primarily differences of gender, sexuality and nationality. Strikingly, many of these cinematic figurations include scenic incidents of ‘film sports.’ By closely reading sportive scenes in ATTENBERG (2010), ALPS (2011) and L (2012), I would like to single out their significantly ‘documentaristic’ quality. Drawing on Hito Steyerl’s concept of ‘documentarism’ (Steyerl 2003), these aesthetics – extendable to ‘Weird Wave’ stylistics in general – feel documentary-like but are, in fact, carefully constructed as such. Reciprocally combining sports’ differentiating factuality and fictional films’ differentiating modi operandi, ‘film sports’ offer highly condensed scenic incidents of sporting queerness.
Tullio Richter Hansen
(Freie Universität Berlin)
Documentary Modes in Feature Fiction Films. The Case of Petros Sevastikoglou and his Film “Electra 2014”
Petros Sevastikoglou is a well established Greek director and teacher in the national drama school of Athens. His own personal “gaze” in filmmaking is a matter of discussion and research since is adding original contributions in Greek cinema. Sevastikoglou in his latest fiction film Electra 2014 is changing his form and style, working in a documentary mode but for a fiction film production. He is referring to the idea of the so called “camera stylo” and Alexander Astruct (Astruct, 1948). Sevastikoglou believes that now that the camera equipment is much lighter the director can write his script with his camera and through improvisation techniques (Sevastikoglou, 2017). The director had a basic idea for the narration without having any script and focused on improvisation techniques, with the actors who had to act based on a feeling, emotion etc. A really important fact was the strong characters background story and psychological profile that the director created and the small crew (only the director and the actors) that helped the production of the film to move forward. The final narration of the film was “written” during the process of the post production editing. This kind of creation opens new chapters in filmmaking from a technical, theoretical and production wise point of view. Is questioning all the traditional models of filming and travels from formalism to realism and from documentary to fiction and puts the story into a new language. This paper is going to analyse the directors mise-en-scene in Electra 2014 through his documentary techniques and will place this new understanding of filming language on paper. The research questions are: How is the director using documentary techniques in his fiction film? Where is this creation placed from realism to formalism and from documentary to fiction?
(University of Central Lancashire / Blackpool & The Fylde College)
Stella Theodorakis and Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”: From “From the Unique to the Multiple” (1993) to “Amnesia Diaries” (2012)
A prominent theme in the work of Stella Theodorakis is memory. Memory as artistic expression of subjective experience becoming historical testimony (From the Unique to the Multiple, 1994); as wisdom accumulated by having lived through historic events which shaped today’s Greece (Like a Dream of Dawn: Emanouil Kriaras, Memories of a Century, 2005); as pain of loss, leading to the creation of an imaginary parallel reality incorporating past occurrences (Ricordi Mi, 2010); and as old Super 8 footage of Theodorakis’ past experiences mixed with shots of recent Athens demonstrations in a cinematic text where the personal and the sociopolitical are intertwined (Amnesia Diaries, 2013).
In this paper I intend to show, focusing on Theodorakis’ documentaries From the Unique to the Multiple (1994) and Amnesia Diaries (2013), that her early adherence to Walter Benjamin’s view that the prestige of a work of art’s authenticity is undermined by its mechanical reproduction (From the Unique to the Multiple) eventually subsides through her preoccupation with memory. According to Benjamin the veneration of authenticity stems from the cult value of works of art, which in the past was synonymous to their use as religious instruments and in recent times persists in their functions of commemoration and glorification of beauty. By adopting filming techniques contrary to unconditional vérité in order to reflect subjective perception of past actions and by using, in the case of Amnesia Diaries, found footage to create a diary film conveying both personal and historical memory, Theodorakis reestablishes in her documentaries not only a cult of commemoration, but also, because of her elaborate artistic imagery, a cult of beauty, which through her personal, original apprehension of her subject matter constitutes a rather authentic approach to reality resisting the devaluation of authenticity by the ubiquity of mechanical reproduction in our times.
(University of Athens)
Lanthimos meets Lacan. When Fiction Has More Truth than Pre-Filmic Reality Itself
One of Lacans famous aphorisms is that: „Truth has the structure of a fiction“. A modern filmmaker, who depict this zero-level truth of the subject in his body of work, is Giorgos Lanthimos in his films DOGTOOTH, ALPS and THE LOBSTER.
The key to fully grasp Lanthimos’ work is the understanding of this fictionalization as an amplified version of pre-filmic reality (Rouch) of the lacanian subject in the non-diegetic world. In this sense I want to show, how his Films, and thus all similar approaches of other films, while obviously not being documentaries, create fictions which foreground the underlying truth of the subject, as fictioness itself.
Thanks to the works of Žižek and McGowan, we can see a path to reinvent psychoanalysis in the filmic discourse. After its first big wave in the 60’s, we should have gained enough critical distance to drop malfunctioning concepts, but not neglect psychoanalysis as a tool in general. There is no doubt that Lanthimos work is internally linked to lacanian theory of subject genesis. But which new insight does a lacanian reading offer Lanthimos films?
On the one hand, Lanthimos obviously uses documentary strategies to ground his work in a kind of realistic setting. But on the other hand, we witness an extreme fictionalization of the diegetic world. The films are staging the subject as constituted by the relation to signifiers and hence a symbolic order. But in true lacanian fashion, Lanthimos isn’t offering a clear emancipator conclusion on how, a subject can escape these symbolic orders of oppression. Instead Lanthimos introduces dialectic of order, which formally mirrors the deadlock of the subject: the subject has the option to flee a symbolic order after realising its defect on satisfying its desire, but in this move still finds itself in a new symbolic order. Through his camera work which is concentrated on depersonalisation of the individual, the very specific usage of terms for his film titles, his ambiguous endings and the construction of a universe of subjects with an unique relation to language his films show how our reality is constructed through the orders of the symbolic, the imaginary and the real. Thus Lanthimos manages to use fiction to describe the human predicament of reality. Formally, the films can be described as a cinema of desire (McGowan), because it reflects the very core of subjectivity.
Especially the analysis of the real in a lacanian sense, which can’t be compared to reality, offers a nutritious ground for further investigation. How does the relation between the documentary and the fictional strategies work in relation to Lacans theory of the subject?
(University of Vienna)
Visualizing Silence: Three Documentaries on Salonica’s Jewish Past
Although the city is considered to be the locus classicus of collective memory, Salonica stands out as an emblematic case of the memory eradication of the centuries-long Jewish presence in it. This paper addresses the ways in which the silence over the city’s Jewish past is tackled by three documentaries: Salonica, City of Silence by Maurice Amaraggi (2003), Salonica by Paolo Poloni (2007), and Kisses to the Children by Vasilis Loules (2012).
In the case of the documentary by the Belgian Maurice Amaraggi, of Sephardic descent from Salonica himself, the main protagonist is the city itself and the ways in which it was transformed from a multicultural and cosmopolitan entity into an imagined Christian Orthodox, monoethnic and monolingual community. The film aspires to revive the repressed past, occasionally bordering on nostalgia. The Swiss Paolo Poloni, in contrast, avoids the nostalgic contemplation by strategically comparing the city’s multicultural past to the ethnic mosaic that composes the city at present. Despite his focus on the everthriving Jewish community (with a multitude of interviews with elderly people in the Jewish nursing home), Poloni invests the film with multiple perspectives, aiming at a polyphonic ensemble. Finally, Vasilis Loules’ “Kisses to the Children” focuses on childhood memories of five Greek Jews from the years of the German occupation, hidden in Christian homes in Athens, Ioannina, and, crucially, Salonica – in fact, recounting the only recorded incident of hidden Jews in the city’s center who survived the Shoah.
Through the analysis of these three documentaries, this paper focuses on the different visual strategies that are used to shed light on a community that has been virtually exterminated, but also on the effects that the emergence of such a difficult past produces to the viewer. Finally, it addresses the central issue of how oral testimonies are used in he specific documentaries and the kind of narratives they produce.
(Carlos III University Madrid)
Smyrna in Your Pocket: Strategies of Framing the Memory of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922)
The recollections of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) in contemporary Greek culture reveal a dynamic interplay between communicative and cultural memory. On one hand, as the temporal distance increases and the generational links to this historical event and its witnesses loosen up, the descendants of refugees from Asia Minor emphatically assert their refugee identity and on that basis claim authenticity for their accounts of the past. On the other hand, fading familial memories guide the descendants to the depositories of cultural memory – literature, films, testimonies, archives – in an attempt to ground their vicarious recollection in material artefacts as well as to fill in the gaps in the family story. The documentary Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City, 1900-1922 (2013) offers a great example of how archival material and personal testimonies interact to create a narrative of the Greco-Turkish War. The director of the documentary Maria Iliou, herself a descendant of refugees from Asia Minor, frames this documentary as at least partly a personal quest: one of the motivations behind her project was to find images corresponding to the stories about Smyrna that her father and stepfather shared as she was growing up. At the same time, interviews with first, second and third generation Smyrniots are called upon in the documentary to give meaning to the archival photographs and to create an intergenerational narrative. My paper discusses the narrative strategies and the visual aesthetics of this intergenerational account and the role it plays in contemporary Greek culture. What is created, as I will argue, is a ‘portable Smyrna’ that can then easily travel to and be invoked in other cultural and social contexts.
(Merton College, University of Oxford)
Diaries in Flux: The Aesthetics of Obsolescence in New Greek Essay Documentaries
The paper proposed aims at scrutinizing the use of found footage in contemporary Greek essay documentary films and, in extension, the use of the quasi-obsolete film technologies, such as super8 or 16mm film, primarily as narrative tropes and less as means of recording. In the last decade, an increasing number of filmmakers either embed in new works expansive fragments of archival material from their personal collection or turn to hybrid techniques that bring together analog and digital media. In an attempt to trace what is the scope and effect of this aesthetic choice, I will observe and highlight that this archaeological excavation of “old” cinematic media in a “new” technological and social context is predominantly introduced in autobiographical essay documentaries or in films that accentuate the subjectivity of the (homodiegetic) narrator-filmmaker: Amnesia Diaries / Imerologia amnisias (Stella Theodoraki, 2012), Lost in the Bewilderness (Alexandra Anthony, 2014), Spectres Are Haunting Europe (Maria Kourkouta and Niki Yannari, 2016), Oktober (Yorgos Kyprianidis and Loukas Koubouris, 2016), among others. By focusing on examples from the aforementioned films, I will eventually argue that, in opposition to mainstream “archival” documentaries of the past decades—that were mostly distributed via television and more conventional channels—where found footage was deployed as factual evidence of a certain reality, contemporary Greek essay documentaries suggest an “archaeological”/materialistic filmmaking method, where visual artefacts with a nostalgic aura underline the destabilization of fixed identities and the emergence of a new, fluid subjectivity. By openly demonstrating the complex relationship the filmmakers have with their tools that shape their perception of the external world and by unfolding different layers of temporality, these essay documentaries narrate stories of a different, less fashionable ‘crisis’: that of oblivion, reverberation, spectrality, and resilience in an ever-changing world.
(University of Amsterdam)
The People Is Missing: Laboratory Athens & Minor Cinema
Founded in Athens in 2008, the independent film initiative LabA promotes the small gauge format (from Super8 to 16mm) as a subversive mode of image production. Having become ‘obsolete’ through the evolution of commodified digital media, small gauge film – with its specific economic, medial and aesthetic qualities – is seen as a residual object and unoccupied field of knowledge that can freely be appropriated for oppositional and resistive purposes. For “the residual formations’ distance from the dominant, however razor thin at times, is the source of its oppositional potential” (C. Acland).
However, the purchase of rare film material and the technical difficulties of working with celluloid seem to act contrary to LabA’s ideal of an open, horizontal community of filmmakers. Moreover, the emphasis of many LabA-films on the handmade, on imperfection, and the specific hue and grain of Super8 amateur films not only evokes canonized experimental cinema; it also blends in with certain nostalgic traits in current retro aesthetics.
With a focus on two exemplary shorts, Circling the Square by ‘Zanmanfu’ and Austerity Measures by G. Cailleau / B. Russell, both made during the 2011 protests against European financial politics on Athens’ Syntagma Square and in the Exarcheia district, the paper will approach LabA’s intertwining of activism and residual media practice, contemporaneity and historicity, event and representation, dissensus and the senses, political insight and aesthetic surface.
(University of Vienna / Central European University, Budapest)
From Folklore Audiovisual Archives to Documentaries: The Colonial Gaze and the Aesthetics of National Authenticity
Greek Folklore Studies (Laographia) appropriated visual media since the very first moment that they were constructed as national science and included still and moving images earliest in their methodological research practice. What makes folk life pictures so critical to Folklore Studies at the moment of their constitution but even later, since the scientific assumptions and the methodological frame established by N. Politis have remained overall unchanged throughout the last century? In which social, political and moral context does N. Politis decide to refer to the visual medium already in 1909, although he himself does not work with pictures and the photographic camera is hard to find and expensive? The analysis of the decisive encounter of the French philhellene, Hubert Pernot and of the founder of Greek Folkore Studies, Nikolaos Politis on the basis of the recording of ‘images and songs’ would conduce to a micrology of the lust for visuality and of the making of a ‘indigenous Hellenism’ (Hamilakis, 2012: 12). Caught in the tangle of colonialist mimicking, Folklore Studies tried to produce on the local level and to reproduce on the colonial the aesthetics of autochthonous and of native as genuine and authentic, generating a peculiar domestic exoticism. The visual obsessions of modern colonialism were accepted by Politis as a metaphor of pure reason, originally, and of archival materiality and exposability later on. What he brought initially to the villages was a gaze and not the feet of a collector. Henceforth, placed in a decorative frame, aestheticized, pacified by the picture, imprisoned in fiction as a background, popular culture was given over to stereotypes, to a codified picturesqueness made of ‘typical’ parts: customs, costumes, rituals, architecture, folk art, songs and dances. Greek Folklore Studies assumed the task of providing authentic copies, of reconfiguring them into archived residues and of depositing them to a safe national archive upon indelible images. As we will argue finally, the nostalgia for national authenticity and indexicality was critical in the creation and recreation of a mass of folklore documentaries which have been an everlasting part of television programming and of Greek state propaganda.
(Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Decolonial Thinking and Documentary: Towards an AestheSis that Reclaims, Repurposes and Reimagines Allegory
While there has been a growing body of literature on decolonial aestheSis, some critical gaps remain; documentary strategies and forms committed to decolonial thinking have not been adequately explored. This paper will discuss documentary films that frame, historicize, and embody questions about the various possible applications of decolonial thinking within documentary practices that not only employs allegory as a from but also reclaims, reimagines and repurposes it to address a specific set of critical issues. Two main questions that will underpin this paper are: how can the metaphorical concept of allegory be used as a literal/practical and non- metaphorical decolonial tool; and how can we reclaim, reimagine and repurpose the idea of allegory to shift it away from its western, colonial epistemic locations and definitions, in order to facilitate new decolonial work in the future? This paper will use examples of three documentary films – Kahankar: Ahankar (Story Maker: Story Taker), A Season Outside, and Night Cries – to analyse how allegory is operating in each case, and how it reflects this shifting of epistemic location so that it actively becomes a mechanism for decolonial thinking.
Ram Krishna Ranjan
(Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg)
Cine-Archaeology of the Camp: Olivier Zuchuat’s “Like Stone Lions at the Gateway into Night” (2012)
From 1947 to 1950, during the height of the Greek Civil War, over 50,000 political dissidents, mostly Communists, were exiled to Makronisos, the small Greek island located close to the Peloponnese peninsula. Members of the military and civilians were held here in mass detention camps to undergo what was officially called a form of “moral re-education” and “rehabilitation”. Today, the camps are no longer existent; only a few derelict buildings remain. These ruins form the starting point for Swiss filmmaker Olivier Zuchuat and his cine-archaeological journey into the island’s traumatic history. In his cinematic essay, Like Stone Lions at the Gateway into Night (2012), Zuchuat proposes – as I argue in my paper – a broader political reading of the camp as both symptom and laboratory of a larger anti-political system that pervades modernity in form of totalitarian terror and dehumanizing logics. In my reading of his film I recur on this larger political reading of the camp, or what Griselda Pollock and Max Silverman in a series of co-edited volumes have called the concentrationary. Zuchuat’s film calls up central logics and spectres of the camp to the extent that it is also able to resist them. Such resistance is made possible through Zuchuat’s use of avant-garde aesthetics, figurative language, multiple voice-overs and by means of aligning himself with French film essayists Alain Resnais and Jean-Daniel Pollet, who have addressed corresponding forms of structural violence in the past. In the process of tracing these forms of violence in Like Stone Lions the legacies of an-other Europe – one that is marked by collective trauma and silenced resistance – also becomes ‘visible’.
(School of Fine Arts & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds)
Documentary Filmmaking and Journalism Practice: Tracing a Genealogy of Greek Documentary Journalism
Recent literature on documentary theory and history goes beyond the fundamental distinction made by Grierson between ‘high’ and ‘low’ categories of films made from the “natural material” (Grierson in Barsam 1976). On one hand, different kinds of broadcasts created within the TV industry from the 50’s ‘till nowadays are included in histories of documentary, on the other hand traits of journalistic and reportage style are an immanent part of established and acknowledged documentary filmmakers (Beattie 2004, Ellis & McLane 2006). Moreover, recent journalistic practice within the global Media Industries proves that the intersection of the two cultures is perhaps stronger than ever (see the MIT Open Documentary Lab Report, 2015). The effect of this tendency is apparent in Greece too with the recent rise of online documentary journalism.
Consequently, under a Greek film and television history perspective, tracing back the relation of documentary filmmaking to journalism can go as far back as the war newsreels of the first quarter of the century (see Lambrinos 2005), Theos and Lambrinos’ 100 Hours of May or even the political documentaries and TV documentaries of the 1970s and 1980s. However, most of these documentaries were made by cinema filmmakers.
Therefore, the aim of this presentation is to answer the following questions: when and how do Greek journalists become documentary creators and “auteurs”? When and how Greek TV embrace documentary as a form of journalism? When and how journalistic audiovisual works (like the one by Stelios Kouloglou, Sotiris Danezis and Yorgos Avgeropoulos), labeled under the current affairs programs or “political programs” in the late 1990s and early 2000s have been named documentaries? What are the narrative and formal transformations and most importantly what are the industrial and cultural discourses that led to the presentation of their work at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and other international festivals?
This intended genealogy of Greek documentary journalism is based on the notion of genre as a cultural category (Jason Mittell 2001, 2004, 2011) and consequently on information collected not only through formal analysis of the texts but most importantly through interviews, reviews and other promotional material.
This post-doctoral research was implemented by a State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) grant, which was funded by the “Postdoctoral Researchers Support” act from the “Human Resource Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” operational programme resources with the 6,8,9 priority axes and is co-funded by the European Social Fund – ESF and the Greek public sector.
(Hellenic Open University / Panteion University)
“My Name is not Refugee”1: Greek Documentary Films on the Migration Crisis
The explosion of the migration-refugee crisis in Greece, since the summer of 2015, has drawn documentary filmmakers from across the world to the country and had an impact in the Greek documentary film production.
Individual filmmakers were drawn by the dramatic circumstances to tell character-driven stories that would shift the viewer’s point of view to that of the Other. Building empathy for their refugee protagonists, while using well established modes of narration, has been the main characteristic in works such as The Longest Run (Marianna Economou, 2015) and Dreaming of Life (Morteza Jafari, 2016), which had a wide festival distribution. Fewer films focused on the point of view of the traumatised locals who receive the influx of the desperate crowds. For example the short 4.1 miles (Daphne Matziaraki, 2017) that was nominated for an Oscar followed that direction, similar to Fuocoammare (Gianfranco Rosi, 2016), the Golden Bear winner at Berlinale.
Institutions, on the other hand, played their own important role in initiating and providing support for projects; from major TV broadcasters and international festivals, to various NGOs and local government authorities, the refugee crisis became the most sought after (and often cliché in its political correctness) subject matter. Since “one way to define documentary is to say, “Documentaries are what the organisations and institutions that produce them make””2 , it is important to research how this “institutions’ trend” affected the form and content of Greek documentaries on the subject.
This presentation will attempt to provide a systematic analysis of the Greek documentaries on the refugee crisis made after 2015. It will distinguish the main narrative approaches in most of the stories that were told. It will also reflect on those stories that remained untold, on the unexplored points of view and the stylistic roads not taken.
1The title is borrowed from a doc series presenting portraits of refugees, produced by TV100, the municipal TV station of Thessaloniki, directed by Panayitis Koundouras, a student of the School of Film Studies of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
2 Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
(Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Film Studies)
Documenting Urban History Through the Moving Image: The Film, the Archive and the City
The wider context of this presentation is the European research project I-Media Cities: Innovative E-Environments for Research on Cities and the Media, a multidisciplinary collaboration between seventeen European film archives, universities and institutes, including the Greek Film Archive and the University of Athens (department of Communication and Media Studies), which is supported by the European framework program for research and innovation Horizon 2020. The project has a double aim: the first is to focus on how the urban space of nine European cities (Athens, Barcelona, Bologna, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Turin, Vienna) is recorded, represented or reconstructed by the moving images, and the second one is to provide access to archival audiovisual collections through a cross-border and cross-language platform, addressed to researchers and a wider audience.
Taking as a starting point the participation of the collection of the Greek Film Archive into this large scale project, my presentation discusses the uses of the moving images in the construction of urban history narrations and focuses on the example of cinematic Athens. The selection of material from the collection of the Greek Film Archive includes rare footage from newsreels, fiction and documentary films from the beginning of the 20th century until today that present an architectural, historical, sociological or anthropological interest in the way they depict the Athenian cityscape. In terms of methodology, questions are raised regarding the legitimation of a “documentary” mode of reading the fiction film, the uses of audiovisual material in order to authenticate urban history, and the canonization of an alternative Greek film history based on such approach. The criteria of the above selection, the consideration of the shooting locations as “tokens of the real” and the relationship between filmic and narrative space will be discussed.
(University of Athens / Hellenic Open University)
Cinematic Urban Trajectories: Documenting the Shifting Athenian Experience in Greek Road and Travel Films
The proposed announcement aims to grapple with the visual representations of the metropolitan lifeworld in contemporary Greek feature films which posit travel and mobility as central narrative axes. Focusing on filmic texts spanning a broad stylistic gamut across key socio-political transitions in the Greek context, I will trace the diverse spatio-temporal modalities structuring the visual encoding of the Athenian topos. Films to be considered include Black + White (Rentzis-Zervos, 1973), About Vassilis… (Tsiolis, 1986), From the Snow (Goritsas, 1993), Delivery (Nikos Panagiotopoulos, 2004), Wasted Youth (Papadimitropoulos & Vögel, 2011). In explicating the various ideologically invested and historically marked cinematic renderings of urban space in these visual narratives I will draw primarily on M. Bakhtin’s notion of the ‘chronotope’, which will allow me on the one hand to link the temporal and spatial elements comprising the social mappings of the city within each film, and on the other to sketch out the connections between the real and reconstructed time-space configurations of the Athenian microcosm. My analytical endeavor will be informed by a series of signifying oppositions (centre/periphery, exterior/interior, public/private, centrality/ marginality, inclusion/exclusion, antiquity/modernity), which will be shown to define the narrative construction of Athens as a manifold, hierarchically structured, lived and observed space in Greek films which foreground the chronotopic motif of the ‘road’. Articulated around mobility and location shooting and predicated on realist aesthetics, Greek ‘urban road films’ will be shown to enact complex visual negotiations between actual and imagined space, registering the mutations in the physical and symbolically constructed Athenian topography during the recent decades.
This post-doctoral research was implemented by a State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) grant, which was funded by the “Postdoctoral Researchers Support” act from the “Human Resource Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” operational programme resources with the 6,8,9 priority axes and is co-funded by the European Social Fund – ESF and the Greek public sector.
(University of Peloponnese)