Film on plight of migrants in Greece released to the world


Crowd-funded film cataloguing the living conditions of migrants pulls no punches.

A chance email by a Somalian teenager in Athens opened the way to a series of shocking and untold stories that came to life in ‘Into the Fire’, a 40-minute crowd-funded film on the plight of migrants in Greece. Describing what they filmed as ‘unsettling’, the directors also intend to take the concept of crowd-sourcing into new territory

A hard-hitting documentary which shows the plight of refugees and migrants in Athens was released on Monday via YouTube in an experiment in distribution that its directors hope will bring the film all over the world and in different languages.

Into The Fire runs for 40 minutes and was directed by Guy Smallman and Kate Mara.

Its origins go back to this time last year when the two directors came to Athens to make a series of short films about austerity.


“What we discovered during our one day of filming on the situation of refugees in Greece was unsettling… The film grew in an organic fashion that surprised us. It seemed to have a life of its own and drag us along in its wake 

– Directors Guy Smallman and Kate Mara


Before they left, they were contacted by a teenage refugee from Somalia, who emailed them a list of problems that he and his friends were facing. They all met up, opening the door to many contacts in the migrant world and to untold and shocking stories, recorded as a short series of interviews. 

“What we discovered during our one day of filming on the situation of refugees in Greece was unsettling. Once we got back to London, we secured additional funding, to be able to go to Greece a second time and take a closer look at what was happening. From that starting point, the film grew in an organic fashion that surprised us. It seemed to have a life of its own and drag us along in its wake,” the directors said.

Shot and edited with sensitivity and compassion, it doesn’t pull its punches and makes for harrowing viewing in parts. It gives incredible insights to the reality faced by people who simply want to lead peaceful, normal lives.

The release took place simultaneously on websites, blogs and other platforms around the internet.

Having relied on crowd-funding for part of the production costs, those behind the film say they are taking the concepts of crowd-sourcing one step further.

“These days, everyone is talking about crowd-funding. Part of the production of Into the Fire was also crowd-funded. We are going one step further: Not only the production, but also the distribution of Into the Fire is crowd-sourced. On April 21 Into the Fire will be released on simultaneously on various websites and platforms around the internet.”

For the launch, they managed to have the film subtitled into nine languages –  Albanian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish – using social media networks. A team of volunteers has translated the film into a number of languages and new volunteers are still adding more languages.

The strategy of crowd-sourcing the production, launch and distribution of the film, its creators hope, will made those who view it active participants, commentators and amplifiers when it comes to opposing the conditions visited on the victims in the story.

Public screenings of the film are planned for Europe and Northern America, and those behind the film invite anyone to organise their own screening.



The Estia bookstore of the past

The bookstore of the hearth

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Jerry Seinfeld.

The bookstore of the hearth

The Estia bookstore of the past.

I remember receiving my first book from Greece as a gift from a returning aunt. Attempting to open it, I was disconcerted by the revelation that every second page was stuck together, necessitating the use of a knife in order to liberate the treasures that lay hidden within. Even before immersing myself in the reading of the text, I could not but indulge in the tactile pleasures of Greek typesetting. Unlike the dead flat, spirit levelled type of say, a Penguin book, Greek type impressed itself firmly onto the page, causing an innumerable array of lexical undulating bumps, ridges and valleys, serving as landmarks for the reader as he traversed any particular kingdom of the empire of the Word.

My favourite books were those that retained the polytonic system, as opposed to the current austere monotonic monstrosity. Not only was this system integral to a proper understanding of Greek grammar and the connection between the modern and ancient languages, it was also very pretty and lent itself well to being gazed at adoringly by the discerning eye. As time passed and polytonic books became scarce, I invariably sought after books published by one of the most venerable and significant book stores and publishers of Greece, the «Βιβλιοπωλείον της Εστίας» (Estia) or Bookstore of the Hearth, which during its 128 year history, and up until its tragic closure in March of this year, was responsible for the publication of over 4,000 new titles, encompassing the works of some 1,500 Greek authors, all in the polytonic system.

To loiter around the shelves of Estia bookstore in its penultimate place of abode, Athens’ Solonos Street, which should be renamed Book Street owing to its concentration of purveyors of the printed word, was to be immersed in a particularly olde worlde literary culture of a type that long ceased to exist in the Australian world of the large commercial book chains. During my first visit to the bookstore, back in 1992, I revealed my Greek Australian provenance by browsing the shelves. Immediately I was set upon by a member of the staff who asked me what in particular I was searching for. «Τίποτα το ιδιαίτερο,» I responded. «Απλά, χαζεύω.» My inquisitor looked me up and down incredulously, before shrugging his shoulders and sighing in resignation: «Ναι, φαίνεται ότι έχεις χαζέψει.»
The concept of browsing was unknown. Patrons instead would arrive seeking a particular book or a particular author, the concept of leaving one’s literary activity to pot luck seeming ludicrously disrespectful. Given that just like an iceberg, not even a tenth of the titles available were on display, should one have wanted to browse, such a pursuit would have been rendered impossible. In this, it is quite plausible that Estia bookstore formed the inspiration for the book hunters in Walter Moers’ classic ‘The City of Dreaming Books’, for the cavernous and seemingly endless basement of the bookstore housed a vast number of hitherto unknown and precious titles on an infinite number of subjects. Yet amidst the chaos, the owners seemed to know the exact position of all of the books in their possession, and a good many of the authors personally themselves.

Furthermore, unlike the generally clueless staff of the bookstores I had come to patronise in Melbourne, the staff of Estia seemed to be possessed of a disconcertingly inordinate facility for literary criticism. I remember one hairy, unshaven and yellow toothed cashier interrogating me as to my choice of Thrasos Kastanakis’ classic of ambition and redemption «Ο Χατζή Μανουήλ.»He would not let me leave the store to devour my purchase until he had expounded why, in his view, the author was suffering from psycho-sexual problems and how this can be revealed in his literary tropes. Then he prescribed a compulsory reading list of other worthy Greek authors and demanded that I come in to discuss each one with him after I had been suitably enlightened.

Loitering also provided unprecedented opportunities to meet literary luminaries, for Estia truly was the entrepot of the Greek literary scene. On any given day, numbers of sundry politicians, actors, poets, writers and thinkers could be found in the store, seeking particular publications, enquiring as to the sales of their own publications or, even more often, those of their rivals. It was in this way that I was able to meet, albeit gushingly and with a complete loss of articulation, the great Antonis Samarakis, the erudite yet urbane Freddy Germanos, and not a few politicians whose names I will forebear to blight the august pages of this publication.

The Estia bookshop was one of those rare things in modern Greece, one of the twelve oldest businesses in the country, stemming five generations and providing a tangible link of continuity and an unparalleled commitment to the publication of Greek literary works, many of which have been of immense significance to modern Greek culture.

If one considers that in the year that Estia was founded, seventy per cent of Greek males and ninety two per cent of Greek females were illiterate, the effect that Estia had upon Greek cultural life can be viewed in perspective. Through its publication of a literary journal, it was able to provide a mouthpiece for the legendary “generation of 1880,” comprised of such writers as Kostis Palamas who were concerned with folklore, everyday life and introducing the demotic tongue, rather than slavishly following European literary models.

Such an endeavour would continue through the publication of translations of ancient Greek works, making these available to the public, often for the first time, and reached its apogee when Kostas Sarantopoulos, who presided over the bookstore between 1925 to 1972, instituted the publication of the “New Series of Greek Literature,” featuring the works of the influential ‘generation of 1930’, Seferis among them, whose writings finally emancipated modern Greek literature from European domination.

What granted especial significance to Estia, constituting it as the hearth of Greek literature, was the commitment to the publication of truly worthy literary works, avoiding the commercialisation of best-sellers or, unique to Greece, the selective promotion of works on a political or ideological basis. The targeted publication of the writers of the ‘generation of 1980’ such as Tatsopoulos, Homenidis, Tamvakakis and others, continued Estia’s tradition of purveying Greek literature hand in hand with its propagators, in a most beneficial partnership. The commissioning of worthwhile translations of non-Greek authors, such as Gunter Grass and Milan Kundera was also a labour of love, making accessible important works the owners believed that the public should be exposed to.

At first, I thought that the announcement of the closure of Estia was an April Fool’s joke. After all, would not the populace rise up in anger or righteous indignation at the news that one of Greece’s oldest institutions was no more? Would not public collections be instituted, wealthy benefactors contacted, writers and politicians mobilised to save the hearthland of Greek literary activity at a time when thinkers and writers are needed more than ever to rethink and restructure the permutations of Greek society? Apparently not. There were no protests, no taking to the streets or ritual burnings of rival bookshops. Instead, the news was received in muted silence, as if, in this period of economic and spiritual crisis, while the closure of a family business is a tragedy, the closure of a bookstore is irrelevant as it is a luxury. Yet arguably it is in those books in the bowels of Estia, recording the trials, tribulations and passions of generations of Greece that lived through worse times than the present, that will offer the guidance, strength and consolation the Greek people so sorely need in order to sustain them as they slowly make their way out of the abyss. It is in Estia and its cultural heritage that the arsenal for recovery can be found. As Doctor Who would put it, albeit paraphrased: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

* Dean Kalimniou is a Melbourne solicitor and freelance journalist.






Revealing the Shrine of Remembrance’s Hellenic roots

From Anzac to Ancient Greece

From Anzac to Ancient Greece

The bronze Symbol of Glory at the summit of the Shrine’s pyramid roof is based on the Choragic monument of Lysicrates that still stands in Athens. In this picture the symbol’s creator Harry Chalmers (top left) poses precariously with colleagues after its installation. PHOTO: SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE ARCHIVE.

While the grand porticos of the Shrine of Remembrance remind any visitor that the glories of ancient Greece were uppermost in the minds of its architects, perhaps few know how deeply the classical allusions lie in Victoria’s most symbolic building.

A war memorial in Melbourne was proposed immediately after the First World War ended in November 1918.

Various projects were put forward, including a victory arch and a memorial hospital, before a competition launched in 1922 generated 83 entries. Melbourne architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop were announced the winners.

In 1924 Hudson, a WWI veteran himself, looked to Ancient Greece to evoke classical virtues in his design for the Shrine, on the site beside St Kilda Road which he saw as similar to the Acropolis.
Hudson believed that Australia’s experience and sacrifice in the First World War would find in the architecture of classical Greece a fitting and enduring reflection.

The Shrine’s design is based on two great buildings from the Classical period; the Parthenon, and the ancient Mausoleum of Mausolos at Halicarnus (now Bodrum in Turkey), known to the ancients as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The pyramid roof was inspired particularly by the 4th Century BC mausoleum. Sketched reconstructions of the ancient tomb, destroyed long ago, have for centuries influenced funerary architecture

And whilst it was the mausoleum that informed Hudson’s thinking on the shape and proportions of the building, it was the Athenian Parthenon that inspired the entrance porches including the Doric order of eight columns.

Hudson made all vertical lines of the Shrine incline towards a point of convergence 2.25 kilometres above ground level. A similar technique called entasis was employed by ancient Greek architects to correct optical distortions.

The tympanum – the triangular stone facade above the portico column on the north side of the Shrine – represents the ‘call to arms’, with an ancient Grecian goddess representing the mother country, appealing to her children to defend her, alongside the terror and chaos of war. Beside them an old man remembers the brave deeds of his more potent youth.

If you lift your head to the Shrine’s top-most feature, the Symbol of Glory at the apex of the pyramid roof crowns Melbourne’s memorial to the fallen and the service of successive generations. Based on an ancient Greek trophy – the Choragic monument of Lysicrates – and made of bronze, it was cast by Melbourne sculptor Harry Chalmers.

Each Anzac Day morning just before sunrise, a light (installed in the 1980s) shines out from the top of the Symbol of Glory during the Dawn Service.


Γιάννης Πάριος: «Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»

Γιάννης Πάριος: «Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»

Μαθαίνεται ποτέ η «ύλη» του κεφαλαίου «έρωτας»;

«Νομίζεις ότι τη μαθαίνεις, αλλά όχι, δεν μαθαίνεται και αυτή ίσως είναι και η τεράστια γοητεία του.

Ότι όσο κι αν τον ξέρεις, σε εκπλήσσει κάθε φορά και σου ανατρέπει όλα όσα πίστευες ότι είχες καταλάβει. Δεν υπάρχουν συνταγές για τον έρωτα, δεν υπάρχουν όροι.

Κάθε φορά βάζεις ένα νέο στοίχημα» τόνισε στο TVΈθνος ο Γιάννης Πάριος. Έχει χορτάσει από στοιχήματα;  «Δεν είμαι νηστικός, αλλά δεν χορταίνεις ποτέ από έρωτα.

Πάντα θέλεις να υπάρχει στη ζωή σου -κι ας έχεις φάει τα μούτρα σου κι ας έχει πονέσει. Θες να ξεκουραστεί λίγο η ψυχή σου και μετά ξανά- Είναι ζωοποιός ο έρωτας!»


Σταύρος Νιάρχος: Στο… μεροκάματο όπως όλοι!

Σταύρος Νιάρχος: Στο… μεροκάματο όπως όλοι!

Τι και αν είναι γόνος μιας εκ των πλουσιοτέρων οικογενειών του κόσμου;

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος είναι ένας άνθρωπος όπως όλοι και για τον λόγο αυτό έχει επιλέξει να εργάζεται ως υπάλληλος σε γνωστό επενδυτικό γραφείο.

Η θητεία του σύμφωνα με την εφημερίδα Παραπολιτικά, στην EIM Group του δισεκατομμυριούχου Arki Busson η οποία διαχειρίζεται hedge funds δισεκατομμυρίων ξεκίνησε το 2011.

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος έπιασε δουλειά έπειτα από συνεννόηση του πατέρα του, Φίλιππου με τον Busson.

Ο Φίλιππος Νιάρχος ήθελε ο γιος του να δουλέψει σε ένα προστατευμένο περιβάλλον όπου θα ερχόταν σε επαφή με τα χρηματοοικονομικά, καθώς θα τον διαδεχτεί μια μέρα στο τιμόνι της αυτοκρατορίας που έχει χτίσει.

Ο Σταύρος Νιάρχος έπιασε δουλειά με κέφι, ενώ μάλιστα την πρώτη του μέρα τον υποδέχτηκε ο ίδιος ο Busson στα γραφεία.

Παπαρίζου-Καψάλης: Μαζί και στα δύσκολα

Παπαρίζου-Καψάλης: Μαζί και στα δύσκολα

Η Έλενα Παπαρίζου ταξίδεψε στον τόπο καταγωγής του αρραβωνιαστικού της, Ανδρέα Καψάλη στον Πύργο του νομού Ηλείας.

Η τραγουδίστρια βρέθηκε εκεί το Σαββατοκύριακο! Το ζευγάρι έφυγε το απόγευμα της Παρασκευής από την Αθήνα και έμεινε δύο 24ωρα. Ο λόγος του ταξιδιού τους;

Ο Ανδρέας έπρεπε να βρεθεί στο μνημόσυνο των σαράντα ημερών ενός αγαπημένου θείου του και φυσικά η Έλενα ήθελε να είναι δίπλα του, σύμφωνα με το περιοδικό ΟΚ.

Ο φωτογραφικός φακός τους εντόπισε έξω από το νεκροταφείο του Πύργου το περασμένο Σάββατο, όπου είχε τελεστεί το μνημόσυνο.

Actress Nia Vardalos chats with us on her most important role ever!


Photo Credit: Rudy Lorejo Photography

The Second City gave Nia Vardalos a foot in Hollywood’s door but before her first big break in cinema, the Windy City was once home for her. From Winnipeg to Chicago, she set her life in comedy sharing The Second City stage with the likes of Chris Farley, and many more. She’s best known for her movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding that she’s written and starred in. For those of you who don’t remember, the movie was set here in our favorite city, Chicago.

Recently we’ve been seeing Nia everywhere on TV. This time touring for her new book called Instant Mom. Her Chicago book signing was held at the National Hellenic Museum and the #ChicagonistaLIVE caught up with her for a quick on-camera interview. Candidly she described her book as containing some “excessive name droppings”. It shed some light on how her career began with her now long-time friends, the super couple Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. She then took her readers to what she now plays the most important role of her life: A mother. Instant Mom is about her often painful journey in finding her daughter through adoption. She talked about challenging moments like the 13 failed IVFs and on a happier note with just 14 hours notice of finally becoming a mom to a 3 years old. It was a laugh-out-loud book but be ready for a box of tissues! Instant Mom is by far the most honest parenting book I’ve read in a long time. Go get the book, but first check out our #ChicagonistaLIVE interview below.

By the way, she even mentioned about a new movie she’s working on!