The film was also screened at the San Francisco Greek Film Festival on 16–24 April 2021. In San Francisco it won as BEST DOCUMENTARY the jury wrote about it: 'Passage to Europe' is an intimate portrait of Fotis Psycharis, whose passion for teaching is matched only by his compassion for his charismatic students. The filmmaker’s extraordinary access and skilled technique takes the viewer past the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding global refugees to open hearts and minds to the resilient children facing unimaginable hardship. https://grfilm.com/awards/
read more on how and why the film passage to Europe, 48', 2021, directed by Dimitra Kouzi was made after Good Morning Mr Fotis, 70', 2020 HERE
This is the protected Delphic Landscape and us (Jacob Stark, Stefano Strocci and Dimitra Kouzi) while the shooting for part of episode 3 of “Art Crimes”, a documentary series about some of the most spectacular art heists of the 20th century! The series is produced by Stefano Strocci (Unknown Media) in co-production with RBB/ARTE, SKY Arte and will feature dramatic reconstructions of thefts, with input from those involved: the investigators, prosecutors and some of the thieves themselves.
Episode 3 brings us to Greece and the city of Itea. This is the small Greek city (15 Klm from Delphi by the sea in Fokis) were the oil producer, Ephthimios Moscadescades lived. He and his brother requested the prestigious Renaissance paintings, including two Raphael artworks. The paintings were stolen by a group of Italian and Hungarian thieves from the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest in November 1983. After an anonymous phone-call the paintings were found in a suitcase in the garden of the Tripiti Monastery in Aigio.
We shoot (also with a super 8 camera) in Itea, the breathtaking area around it towards Aigio (on the Peloponnese) and then in Athens, where we interviewed the judge Leandros Rakintzis. Save the date the amazing series will be broadcasted in more than 15 channels across Europe in 2022.
Jahanbakhsh Nouraei is a renowned Iranian film critic and lawyer. He has written vastly on movies for many years. This is an English translation of his review of Radiography of a Family by is Firouzeh Khosrovani.
Two kinds of people use x-rays films: physicians, to diagnose distortions of the body —especially broken bones— and trouble- shooting locksmiths, to open closed doors.
(They insert the x-rays film through the narrow opening that the naked eye may not see).
Radiograph of a Family is Firouzeh Khosrovani's feature documentary that has both skills. It shows both that which is broken, and the opening of a door to the sad garden of memories. The break and the opening of the door are both symbols of a world wider than the family home and its four walls.
The film goes from the particular to the universal and becomes the story of numerous other families. But the small and real world of the husband and wife of this family is drawn so softly and justly that similarities, and the visible and hidden looks at the tumultuous world outside the wall, fall into place naturally and without exaggeration.
The woman and man's beliefs, attachments, and values slowly end up in opposition to one another. The beliefs of each one is not fake, but genuine. They emerge from within and inevitably drag the family into a war that, despite attachments, has no result other than the reversal of the man and woman's positions and their emotional separation. Both are flowers whose petals are scattered by opposing winds, in a marriage that began with love.
The father has Western beliefs and behaviors. He is happy and filled with vigor. He has studied in Switzerland and become a physician there. The mother is religious, God-fearing, and worried about falling into sinful behavior. In between the two, their daughter is a neutral narrator who opens the faded notebook of days, and tells of the events and struggles, alongside mother's and father's voices.
The father does not resist the course of events; as he loses everything that he loves, he slowly withdraws into himself and, with melancholy, prepares to leave a world that is no longer his.
From the narrator's viewpoint, father and mother's union began with a visual attraction. The very first sentence we hear from her at the beginning of the film is "Mother married father's photograph." Father has taken one look at his future wife and mother has seen a photo of her future husband, they like each other and get married. But the photo portrait of the groom that takes the place of his warm body and breath at the wedding ceremony, bodes a cold future.
In this film, photographs are the instruments and links of a tense union between two different cultures and beliefs; the cracks in this union, brought about by a slow domestic rebellion, meanwhile find their wider reflection out on the streets that are brimming with revolt and social change. Home and outside the home are two parallel worlds that reflect each other like intertwined mirrors. The photos, aided by the spoken text and the simple, meaningful dialogues, communicate like the beads of a rosary, become memorable, advance the story, converse with the music, fall silent and finally collapse and surrender to being burned and torn to pieces. The broken-hearted father dies quietly in his sleep and the mother stays behind to move about in her wheeled walker, to seek refuge in her usual, old sacred ideal, and to have her life continue in this way.
The walker as a real object acts as a cane for a weak human being; yet at the same time represents the paralysis of a rebellious soul, and speaks of the fate of a woman of traditional beliefs who was forced to go skiing in Swiss mountains, an act that damaged her body and soul — the damage that stays with her to the end, and is irreparable. This X-rays image aligns with father's profession, radiologist; and the real distortions of a wife's spinal column link symbolically to an intellectual and social current to which the mother takes part, finding broader meaning.
After her skiing accident mother said repeatedly that it was as though her back were split in two. Thus, she seeks peace of mind and the cure to a split identity in the therapeutic space of the Revolution. The ideals are expected to help her heal the spinal column of her oppressed soul, release her from the wounds of a foreign culture, and with God's help, to allow the withered flower to blossom again in the passion and zeal of revolutionary romanticism.
The anti-tradition culture did not suppress her in Switzerland only. In the time that she was made to live in that country, where their daughter was conceived, the signs of Western culture began to influence and infiltrate her home land at great speed also. The land of her ancestors now looked like Geneva.
Still, Fortune favors the mother, and her rebellious desire, after returning to Iran, finds a suitable outlet in the enthusiastic slogans of Dr. Ali Shariati, flag-bearer of anti-government religion. This revolt becomes more audacious daily, and a spring that had been pressured into coiling begins to expand.
It does so within the family, it accelerates, the power equation collapses, and mother forces father — whom she often calls "monsieur" -- into sad retreat. The rearrangement of furniture according to mother's tastes causes father's decorations to fade, the balance of power is disturbed. Mother's progress is guaranteed just like the relentless victories of the trenches in battle scenes. The colors at home tend towards grey; a feeling of mourning and the absence of passion, delicacy, affection scatter over the home. The re-arrangement of furniture causes destruction and renovation to intermingle, and recalls the verses of the poet M. Azad that: "From these rains – I know – this house will be ruined. Ruined."
The climax of events occurs when the mother says good-bye to her unpleasant and "sinful" past in the effort to solidify her new position, and she tears up the photographs that, for her, represent giving in to sin and to foreign influences.
Mother's act creates the impression that one of the aims and advantages of toppling values during revolutionary zeal is to deny the past and burn its signs, both in matrimonial life and in society. Here, the narrator's role becomes slowly more prominent and she does not remain silent faced with the ruin of the home and the removal of the past. The narrator enters the scene and we witness her small hands connecting the fragmented pieces of the family's heritage and memories; if she cannot find a missing piece, she paints it in herself with the help of her imagination and her longings. White and red and green, accompanied by engaging majestic music, take the place of the cold and empty area, and the space takes on a hopeful tone. It is as though the past of a family and a country whose to be recognized again wins over to be forgotten and thrown away.
The form and narrative of the film do the same, by juxtaposing retrieved photos and faded old films, giving the past new life, making us look at it differently and ask where we stand.
At the end of the film, which is a new beginning, the viewpoint changes and the camera looks from above, as though through the invisible eye of history, at the girl who lies in a white dress among an ocean of torn up photographs and is busy reconstructing and breathing new life into them. This delicate and effective scene can become a positive sign for a new generation, to bring one's home back to life; a home that, with all its joys and fleeting happy moments, in the end had nothing but bitterness and despair neither for itself nor for its wandering inhabitants.
As the future fast approaches, Dimitra Kouzi, raises questions about how evolving technologies are impacting the way we produce and present information
published in Modern Times Review (the European Documentary Magazine) autumn issue 2018.
Who do you want to be?
I’m often surprised when I find out things about myself I didn’t know. I don’t think we have one true self but many different faces. Rilke writes about that in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: how we consist of so many different layers and faces. We walk around with them and put them on – sometimes one face gets worn out, or becomes thin like paper.
I have spent so many years of my life trying to be someone else and looking for something else, with a restlessness that in some ways is positive, because it’s about being curious, longing to explore, to move on. But there is also another side to it, when you’re always on the run, feeling independent and free, without anything keeping you. Loneliness can be brutal sometimes. I don’t have the same restlessness anymore. My mother talks about that in the film, that she no longer yearns for somewhere else, not in the same way as before, when she always carried a diffuse longing for elsewhere.
I appreciate to be in one place for a longer time; at the same time, I have a nomadic mind so I can get up and leave any minute. And I still love that feeling of being on the road, on my way, playing good music, watching the landscape changing, being in transit. Or just waiting for the plane at the airport, or arriving to a new place where I’ve never been before and don’t know what to expect.
I now spend more time in the countryside in Sweden, where I have an old house. I also live part-time in Berlin. These two places are very good for me because I feel so much at home and alive. There is no pretence. It just is what it is, natural, beautiful and raw. There’s a title of a book by Robert Frank: ‘Hold Still – Keep Going’. I very much believe in that. To not rush, but to be present. I think that’s the most important thing for a filmmaker or an artist. I work in a very intuitive way. I always have my camera with me.
Failure: How do you feel about it?
When I grew up, I felt like my whole life was a failure compared to others. My parents were artists, our home was chaotic and unconventional. We lived in the countryside in Sweden, our neighbours were farmers. My friends’ parents had normal jobs. I was ashamed and wanted to be like everybody else. In the film, there is a passage with a little girl with a cute dress, Sophia. We were best friends. I adored her. She was so pretty, their home picture-perfect. I felt like a failure compared to her. But underneath the surface things weren’t that perfect. And she dreamt of my life.
Now when I look back I am happy that it was not all perfect and that I have the experience of what it means not to fit in. I had to find my own way. Feeling that I was not in the right place made me curious to explore other worlds. I started travelling at an early age and went alone on trains in Eastern Europe for the first time when I was 15. I was very shy and had an old Hi 8 camera that I used to film everything I saw, people I met – a way to communicate and get in touch with people. I was so full of questions about love, the feeling of home, and I ended up filming very personal conversations with people I met on trains and in places in Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, all around Europe. I am now using that archive material for my new film, Notes On A Journey. Feeling different or feeling like a failure can also be a driving force for you to search for others who share your experience. I felt much more at home in Bosnia than I did in my own small village in the countryside.
There was a period in my teens when I revolted against the chaos that was around me, growing up in an artist family and a messy home, and with parents who were different. Everything had to be perfect. I loved writing, but suddenly it was related to prestige. I wrote chronicles for a daily newspaper, a full-page article every Saturday. I won many prestigious literary prizes. I was the youngest ever to receive a journalist prize at the age of 18. I was offered a book contract. I did everything right. I was successful from the outside. Yet, inside I was torn apart and very unhappy. It was all just a shell. The more successful I became the more distant from myself. Finally, I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, and all the passion was gone. When you are afraid of failure, you stick to the well-known, which I believe is the greatest threat to creativity.
I don’t care so much anymore about being loved by everyone; I am interested in the notion of failure, what that means. Also, the complementary idea: success, what that means. Of course, I want to always do the best I can, and I want people to like what I do. But who decides what is a failure? To write one great script, maybe you have to write ten bad ones before you get there. When I showed the first versions of my film to my mentor, Stefan Jarl, it was ‘a failure’ and I knew it, but it was part of the process. I believe that we need to defuse the fear of failure.
What do you want people to think and feel as they are leaving the theatre? After a screening at Gothenburg Film Festival, a woman came up to me and hugged me, saying, ‘Thank you for making this film! The first thing I will do when I go home is call my daughter. We never really talk.’
The end (or just the beginning?)
Meet us in Krakow! In competition at Krakow Film Festival
‘I am interested in the cracks, the things in between, the gap, or the abyss. I am always curious about the human mind. Something I believe all my work has in common is the personal approach. I have to be moved by something deeply.’
Did you really get closer to your mother by making Reflections?
I think we can never really understand each other, or ourselves, fully, but all we can do is try. And I think it’s an act of love to say: ‘I want to spend time with you and get to know you better.’ And we are sometimes so busy with other things and postpone what is the most important: our loved ones. It’s easy to take each other for granted, or to see your parents as just your parents and forget that they are so much more. When my grandparents died I regretted that I didn’t spend more time with them, that I didn’t ask more questions.
My mentor and friend Stefan Jarl used to tell me: ‘Never eat the heart’. It sounds quite brutal, but with that he means that you should keep some things sacred. There are some rooms you should never enter, secrets that are not supposed to be revealed.
It takes a lot of effort to really get to know someone, because we are constantly changing and the mind is so complex and full of contradictions. As soon you think you have defined something, it has already transformed into something else. In the film there is a line: ‘I try to hold on to something, but everything is in constant change.’ I’m in the forest, looking up at a tree. The tree has been there for maybe 100 years, like a witness to everything around. I used to think that trees have eyes, that they see us.
People are different, some people talk a lot without really saying anything. Some people say a lot without using that many words. My grandfather never told my father that he loved him. Not because he didn’t love him, but he didn’t know how to say that simple sentence. When he was close to his death, he hugged my father and said to him: ‘You know, my son, I know you know.’ He had tears in his eyes. He was not a man of many words, but the love he felt was strong. My mother never really talked that much about herself, or about her sorrows and experiences. I also became like that; I kept things inside, focused more on others, and became a good listener. I am interested in this gap, how you can feel so close and have a symbiotic relationship, like I have with my mother, and at the same time feel a big distance. She knows me so well, and she can sense immediately when something is wrong, or when I feel sad, in a way that no-one else can. I think this has to do with the fact that we have very similar experiences from really dark times and self-destructive behaviour.
How did you approach such a personal family story and emotionally cope with exposing yourself so much?
It’s about having access to the emotions and then being able to step outside, to see yourself from a distance. When you make a self-portrait, or an autobiographical film, you are both the subject and the object at the same time. I can choose what I want to reveal, and the greatest challenge is to dare to be completely honest and truthful. That is painful because it is so much easier to just portray yourself in a positive way. But then you would only stay on the surface of things.
Fear is my driving force.
Fear means challenge and change. You know that you will be transformed. When I’m thinking of an idea and my heart beats hard I know I’m on the right track and should just follow that feeling. In making this film I wanted to find out what happens when you decide to take a relationship one level deeper, with someone that is already very close to you. There are no major conflicts between me and my mother. I don’t accuse her of anything. But we have such different ways of seeing things depending on our experience. We remember things differently.
Sometimes a scent or an incident can trigger a memory and completely change the mindset. We live with so many different layers and parallel worlds in our minds – reality, illusions, dreams, all existing at the same time. A friend of mine lost his brother on a sunny day in the month of May. When the sun shines in the spring he is longing for the rain.
My mother found a dead foul in the grass one morning, killed by the electric fence. She completely lost her mind. It reminded her of something that had happened 20 years earlier that she had never really talked about, when she lost a child that was strangled by the umbilical cord.
I believe everything you never deal with, or try to keep hidden deep inside, will come back to you.
In what way(s) did you change after completing Reflections?
It is a very important film to me and probably the most personal film I will ever make. Making this film just makes me believe even more in the personal, that the more courage you have and the deeper you dare to go the greater chance that you will make something that others can relate to. Because we are so much the same deep inside; we share the same longing to be loved for who we are. Making this film has given me more courage to believe in my own vision and my ideas and to experiment more. To not make compromises, to listen to others, but also to trust in my intuition.
This is the second year running that a Prix Europa award has gone to a Finnish production - last year the documentary The Punk Syndrome scooped the best TV documentary prize for its colorful portrayal of a rock band suffering from learning disabilities.
This year it was a Finnish documentary who has won the Prix Europa award for Best European TV current affairs programme in Berlin!
Syria - Faces of War was chosen for its "serious, crucial and honest" view of real war. The film is based on the photographs of Finnish photographer Niklas Meltio, and is directed by Yle's Vesa Toijonen and Ari Lehikoinen. Accepting his award, director Ari Lehikoinen dedicated the win to all the journalists killed during the Syrian conflict. And here is the interview with both the directors Vesa Toijonen and Ari Lehikoinen.
How would you describe the world that we live today to someone who does not know anything about it?
The world is a mess. There are an awful lot of things going on that need understanding and explanation. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
What was your personal experience in Syria? VESA: It was not as bad as I expected - after following the media coverage. I compared the situation with my experience in Sarajevo during the war. In Aleppo there was electricity and running water even in the front line. We had tea and there was a possibility to use toilet before filming the fighters. In Sarajevo this was out of question!
There seemed to be food and medicine available - unlike, again. in Sarajevo. And of course Aleppo was not besieged like Sarajevo - nobody stopped us from driving into the city. No way in Sarajevo.
The city of Aleppo was destroyed but less than one could expect according to news reports. Buildings in the front lines, yes, but a couple of blocks behind the lines the life continued quite normally. But the life was not normal, that is sure.
ARI: Wars have to be portrayed authentically, although many seem to think it doesn’t really go with your morning coffee. Wars are often sugar-coated in the media. We try to avoid that. Our film was shoot from 2012 to August 2013. The situation is now much worse.
What were the difficulties that you have to overcome while shooting and editing the film? In Aleppo and in Syria we faced the normal difficulties: snipers, risk of shelling and air-bombing. We took a lot of time to avoid the troops that had started kidnapping visiting foreigners. Yet, we managed to have lunch in a same restaurant with al-Nusra fighters.
In the desert between Iraq and Syria the most difficult was to balance between the desperate refugees and your own feelings to help them. And yet you can not - we are there to film their escape, not to distribute water or food. Some people understand, not everyone.
When we start cut the film the editor said; “What a hell, so much stills, don’t you know that we should make a movie!”
Did you try to make an objective film? VESA: We always do, but personally I learned a very important lesson in Sarajevo when I tried to explain the concept of objectivism in Western journalism. "So you mean that we should all be treated equally, also the sniper who is trying to kill me when I carry water buckets and can not escape", my landlady asked me one cold morning. We waited a "safe" moment to fill the water tanks in her apartment. Since that discussion I think that there is a difference between a sniper and a victim and objectivity is not always the main purpose.
ARI: There is such fine line between the objective documentary and biased one. It’s quite hard to find a documentary which I would consider to be truly objective, but I do think that it’s possible to objectively capture reality in some documentaries.
The only way to give face to this war, was to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it.
Please describe your film in 2-3 lines.
It is a true story.
War is ugly. True faces of the war; raw, grotesque and full of tears and pain.
What can't we see in the film? The most horrified pictures .
We were also very careful choosing images of patients in a psychiatric hospital in Aleppo. People were left alone in a makeshift hospital, without medication. We wanted to respect these people and left out most of the pictures.
What is your next film about? ARI: My film is “Skeleton in the closet”. It’s totally different film than “Faces of war”. It’s one man’s story. We all have secrets: the ones we keep, and the ones that are kept from us. VESA: One carries working title "Frozen war". It is about the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. the war has stopped - but only for a moment and there are speculations that Russian politicians would like to freeze the situation as it is now - to control it better.
People living in war torn villages do not care about speculations. They would like to get their houses warm before winter comes. Refugees would like to go back but they can not. They suffer between war and peace. We also show how a real "frozen war" looks like. Refugees in Nagorno-Karabakh have waited 20 years that one way or another the confict could be solved and they could return to their houses. But the houses do not exist any more. Only ruins are left. - so is this also the future for Ukraine?
It seams to me that a lot of people in Europe have forgotten or care less about what is still happening in Syria. Why? We have a nice word for this: we "war-fatigue". We grow tired when there is no progress. Actually we all grow tired, not only journalists and our audiences, but politicians who try to find solutions, aid workers, even fighters become apathetic or desperate. And local people, both those who decided to stay and refugees in camps all over Middle East.
Hope on the line (Greece, 2013, 73 min.), directed by Alexandros Papanikolaou & Emily Giannoukou, follows the leader of the Greek radical-left party Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, during the course of a year, from the campaign for the close-call June 2012 elections to the sudden shutdown of the Greek public broadcasting corporation (ERT) in June 2013. Shedding light on Tsipras' personality, political views and ambitions, the film includes insider's footage from the party, the views of militants and high-ranked members, and witnesses decision-making processes both in Greece and abroad. From the frontline man, Alexis Tsipras, up to the party's Political Bureau, strategy is being built, political lines evolve, another future for the nation is timidly being imagined. Within the political turmoil, Greek citizens seek answers to their fundamental and dramatic questioning. The very status of the country is at stake: its place in Europe, its future and destiny.
What is so fascinating about this story?
The economic crisis in Greece, as well as elsewhere in Southern Europe led public opinion to take an introverted turn and installed a sense of distrust toward traditional politicians. Thus, the center parties, as in most European countries, are struggling to stay in power, while extreme groupings and radical parties are rising in the polls. In Greece, where the crisis worsened dramatically in a very short period of time, and where democracy is expressed directly as a result of the country's electoral system, the fact that Syriza might take power becomes all the more significant. Syriza rose from 4.5% to 27% in less than three months, and became the second-largest party in Greece and the leading opposition party.
Alexis Tsipras has an intriguing personality. An ambiguous and lesser-known figure until recently, he now stands a great chance of becoming the next prime minister of Greece. He is fairly experienced despite his young age. Thus, he was able to change the political scene in the country and win the support of voters who have grown disenchanted with the old parties.
This film shows the transformation of Syriza during the month that preceded the election, also seeking to reveal the actual goings-on within the party in order to provide a better understanding of the way decisions are taken. During the last campaign, we saw the young and charismatic Alexis Tsipras emerge as a true threat to his opponents, even if he was narrowly defeated in the end because of the debate over the euro. He managed to change the way his party is perceived by centre-ground voters and got a spectacular number of votes.
Through this documentary, we focus on Alexis Tsipras' personality during a crucial historical moment. We also try to provide insight into the political views that emerge from discussions behind closed doors, inside the party, how these views evolve and how Tsipras presents these ideas to the public, as well as how he shapes public opinion and becomes a symbol of opposition to the memorandum. Our aim was to sketch the image of a political persona during this difficult political juncture in Greece at which society is trying to regain its bearings.
Cinematography: Michalis Aristomenopoulos, ADDITIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christophoros Loupas, George Karvelas. CAMERA: Dimitris Michalakis, Snorre Wik, Ozgur Baykal, Gabriel Psaltakis, Umut Kebabci.
Research: Hilal Bakkaloglu (Turkey), Mohamed El Tohami (Egypt), Danae Leivada (Greece), PRODUCTION MANAGER: Eleni Christodoulou
Editing: Thodoris Armaos
Music: Spyros and Michalis Moshoutis
Producers: Rea Apostolides, Yuri Averof & Nina Maria Paschalidou. Produced with Forest Troop. Co-produced with Agitprop, Nukleus Film and Veritas Films in association with AL JAZEERA, ARTE, SVT, YLE, RTS, CYBC, KNOWLEDGE CHANNEL, CHANNEL 8, MRT and BTV., Supported bu MEDIA, the CROATIAN AUDIOVISUAL CENTRE, the BULGARIAN NATIONAL FILM CENTRE and the GREEK FILM CENTRE..
World distribution: FILMS TRANSIT International JAN ROFEKAMP 252 Gouin Boulevard East Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3L 1A8 Phone (514) 844 3358 Fax (514) 844 7298 www.filmstransit.com e-mail: [email protected]
In 25 years, Michael Haneke established himself as one of the most important directors in cinema history. From his early work to AMOUR, he created a unique universe, revealing like no other the dregs of our society, or existential fears and emotional outbursts. Through the vision of his actors and previously unseen footage, MICHAEL H. depicts the work of a rare artist.
Yves Montmayeur talked to Dimitra Kouzi about his new documentary Michael H. Profession: Director when visiting Athens for the screening at CineDoc on October 9, 2013.