Documentary, 70ʹ, Greece, 2020
Written, Directed, and Produced by Dimitra Kouzi
In the heart of Athens, in a once desirable residential district. In the 1990s, many Greeks moved out to the suburbs; successive waves of immigrants from the Balkans and former Soviet Union moved in. Since 2009, in Greece’s economic crisis, the area declined, with poverty and gloom spreading and crime rates soaring.
Today, the neighbourhood is home to a diverse array of migrants and refugees from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, some tourists, and a few old residents.
Fotis Psycharis has been teaching at a regular state school in this neighbourhood for 30 years now. Aged 6–12, most of the school’s pupils are migrant and refugee children, largely unfamiliar with the Greek language and culture. The lack of a common linguistic and cultural background has prompted Fotis to develop other teaching methods and modes of communication. Theatre, a synthesis of many arts, is an essential part of his toolbox.
Watch the trailer.
About The Film
The documentary film Good Morning Mr Fotis goes into the classroom to follow the everyday reality of a 6th Grade at a public elementary school in the heart of Athens. Reflecting the diversity of the area where it is located, near Omonoia Square, this class consists of 17 pupils from 7 different countries, with varying degrees of familiarity with the Greek language and the European culture.
The teacher aims for inclusion, not mere integration. Enlisting creativity in many forms, not exclusively based on the linguistic code, Fotis has for 30 years been developing his own, innovative teaching approach by combining different arts and techniques; he teaches children – irrespective of background – a way of thinking and acting, applying an experiential teaching method that engages the heart, mind, body and senses. Children are given space to explore and discover while developing their personalities – in a film that humorously captures the importance of a teacher who proposes and delivers solutions.
This is a beautiful film, which with great delicacy and skill shows the power of understated goodness to engender hope and effect transformation in both individuals and communities. You will be rooting for these children and their inspirational teacher to succeed. His deployment of theatre and philosophy in the classroom to develop understanding and empathy makes a compelling case for the importance of the Humanities in our schools.
Professor Angie Hobbs FRSA
Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy
University of Sheffield
In this universe, parallel to our own yet so different, just a few kilometres away from where I live, with my own habits, I felt inside me the need to go back to school, at that school.
A school, a hope. Children who are children against all odds. And in this colourful classroom, with its wooden theatre stage, there is space for the joy of learning to flourish – an innate joy, shared by all humans, a path to education, rather than degrees and marks. Words are not what counts here; what counts is actions. And, in the bittersweet comfort of art, the power to transform. Education through the joy of creativity; spontaneous inclusion, rather than integration.
A creative treatment of an infinitely harsh reality just a breath away from Omonia Square and its astounding diversity of faces, ethnicities, and cultures concentrated within a few blocks in a city like Athens, where international inhabitants where few and far between only a few years ago.
Meeting Fotis, an authentic, creative, educated person, introduced me to a luminous side of life – how to be what you do, what you say, without any disconnect; when your job is your life, your work something important to leave behind. A pioneer, yet also a man out of time, as if coming from a few generations back, from another Greece, a country more approachable, slower-moving, wiser, poorer in material terms yet richer, mature, familiar yet distant. I’ve always loved to explore and discover, to travel, meet people, listen to their stories and relay them. I’m grateful for having taken this journey in space and time, for capturing this moment on film. All around us, those incredible children, each in their own way – windows and journeys to new worlds. And that other child, within, once again found a space of its own, the joy of learning and creating.
Written, Directed, and Produced by Dimitra Kouzi
Camera/Sound: Konstantinos Georgoussis
Editing: Nelly Ollivault
Original music composed by Michael Kapoulas
Sound Lab: Kvaribo Sound
Sound Design/Editing: Vallia Tserou
Sound Mixing: Kostas Varybopiotis
Image Lab: 235
Colour Correction/DCP mastering: Sakis Bouzanis
Poster/Credits/Website Design: Daria Zazirei
Translation/Subtitle Editor: Dimitris Saltabassis
Production Assistant: Rosie Diamantaki
Still Photography: Katerina Tzigotzidou, Mania Benissi
Location Sound Recordist: Aris Athanassopoulos
Special Effects: Yannis Ageladopoulos
Drone: Tassos Fytros
Trailer: Penelope Kouvara
Legal Advisor: Aris Kontoangelos
Original music published by Illogical Music/Acuatrop LLC
Drawing: Sahel Mirzai (5th Grade, Elementary School 54)
Visible Film, Thierry Detaille T +32 477617170 E firstname.lastname@example.org
Dimitra Kouzi, Director/Producer
With the kind support of
The J.F. Costopoulos Foundation
The film was selected by the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival to participate in Docs in Progress 2019
Docs in Progress 2019 Award – Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Greek Film Centre
©Kouzi Productions 2020