Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Short Documentary in the Making

Some of you have been following along with my activities in Greece. Here is an overview of what I'll be working on for the next month or so. I think my deadline is April 26, but don't quote me on that.

I plan to title this Gods In Disguise, playing off the ancient Greek belief that any person one might meet should be welcome, as he or she may be a god in disguise. What threatens traditional Greek life more than anything is the influx of immigrants (unfortunately I have no footage for that, although I came upon a couple of pocket populations in Athens' center), the rise in divorce (almost negligible, but of course a real problem when it happens), Gypsies and other vagabonds (of course), and the rise of certain political parties (the Communists hold 7% of the mandatory voting power) and anarchists like those that shut down the university system for four months.

Obviously, I wasn't in Greece long enough* or well connected enough to make this an in-depth project, but I plan to give the overview of the country's current state with an eye toward certain environmental developments. It interests me greatly that the country is able to adapt to the changing global scheme (environmentally speaking) more quickly than it is to the problems of its own people. Perhaps every country is like this. The recurring theme of this documentary, however, should address the bared teeth of the Greeks' smiles as they struggle to maintain the kind of hospitality that their ancient belief prescribes (and which is now mandated by the country's reliance on tourism second only to shipping for its GNP) while they see the people on the other end of those smiles as a threat to their way of life.

A very old story, is it not?

*I also broke my nose on last Wednesday, so my productivity dropped sharply for a day or two, as did my brain...



Blogger Mama Vengeance said...

Oh Johanna ... I am so sorry to hear about your broken nose! I have to wonder whether there is a story there.

Change is the only constant. It is hard to see a way of life diminish or even vanish. And yet something new, but not necessarily better, always seems to rise up in its place.

March 22, 2007 6:46 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Tourism and immigration, two ways to look at the foreigner... Interesting dichotomy/antagonism.

Did you ask them what they think about Turkey applying to join the European Union?
Communists are not a threat in Europe... they are nostalgia. The threat is the far right (especially considering immigration regulation).

Good luck with your documentary! Keep us posted on the evolution of your work.

And take care of your nose.

March 22, 2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger johanna said...


I ran right into a solid, still glass door.

the story's mundane, but i'll tell it anyway: I had given a professor a back massage, one of my hidden talents, and she had praised me soo much that a girl on the trip (who I really should have just ignored) got jealous and insisted I give her a back massage to "see what all the fuss was about."

I was so glad to be done with her massage that I jumped up and ran in the direction of the balcony that I had been on only a moment before, only to find that her mother had shut the door stealthily. Or perhaps not so stealthily. The girl in question is very loud. They could use her in ship harbors,

Anyway, it was impulsive of me, heedless, really, and I think I've learned a lesson -- though I'm quite sure that both the girl and her mother would probably not like to hear it, dig...

Thanks for the words of looks like no disfiguration's going on...just a tiny scar on the bridge. Nothing I can't handle : )

March 22, 2007 7:12 PM  
Blogger johanna said...



I was being somewhat "ironical" as the kids in the states sometimes say with the Communist thing...I was mostly dealing with PR people who want tourists back in their country...(I'm half socialist myself, the other half is mostly Scotch-Irish...)

Yes, I heard a lot about the Turks, but even our tour director said the ones on the border are cool and that he has lots of friends who are Turks.

I find your comments interesting, and good to hear. I realize that Greece is steeped in stolid tradition and heavy odd breed considering its history.

I will keep y'all posted. I just hope this doc doesn't turn out to be too surface. I have to turn in something next month, but I'm fully aware of its potential and may choose to return to Greece next year if we have another trip to finish the job. We'll see.

March 22, 2007 7:17 PM  
Blogger old man neill said...

Filming in Greece, interviewing the locals, giving backrubs to professors...I'm jealous. Well, not the broken nose part, but that sounds like quite a story in itself.

March 23, 2007 2:13 PM  
Blogger johanna said...

Thanks for reminding me that I need to write as much down from the trip as possible. I would have kept a journal, but it's very hard to hold a camera and write at the same time.

And I really wanted to participate in everything I saw as much as possible, to try and break down that wall that the camera puts up.

March 23, 2007 3:38 PM  
Blogger johanna said...

1.) In my search for online supplemental materials thus far, the closest I have come to --------'s comments (he did tell me his name, but I promised not to reveal it. sorry) being reinforced in any media source can be found on an anarchist's page here. The English used is not stellar, so the development suffers. But you'll get the gist.

The page does reflect the doubt in my source's eyes when I asked him what the plan was...and he could only reply that daily public assemblies were an ongoing, communicative process. Two days later, the students were gone and a conference was being held upstairs. I talked to the man at the door who dismissed me as a tourist and said I could go in but not take pictures. I already had my camera on, so I smiled a big, American smile and said (phonetically) ef harry sto.

2.) Here are photos that are, I think, from last summer's initial riots, attributed by the corporate media as being a reaction to the announced privatization of Greek education. Thanks to Sister Rye for sharing these photos taken three days before I arrived in Greece.

3.) Proud of me? I unflagged a YouTube taping of a post that contained absolutely no content that needed to be censored (not even by Disney's standards) but which had been flagged anyway (perhaps because of the petrol bombs, but possibly because of the title? (Greek Anarchists Riot Against Condi.) I'm assuming a Condoleeza Rice fan could've somehow found that offensive.

What a country.

March 23, 2007 7:22 PM  

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