October 26, 2020

The convulsive nights of Exarchia, the Greek neighborhood where gentrification and Molotov cocktails coexist | Blog Doc & Roll

The convulsive nights of Exarchia, the Greek neighborhood where gentrification and Molotov cocktails coexist | Blog Doc & Roll


Ethics and aesthetics are continually fused in Exarchia, the central neighborhood with an anarchist spirit located two kilometers from the Acropolis of Athens. Full of squatted and self-managed buildings and alternative artistic expressions, it is one of the most convulsive places of the already hectic Greek reality.

The film director Nadine Gómez goes through the place that faced the dictatorship in the 70s and then saw the birth of the radical left coalition Syriza. It seeks its essence by talking to its neighbors and highlighting its paradoxes: there live now the silent threat of gentrification and the explosion of Molotov cocktails.

"Popular expropriation of several Smarkets in #Exarchia, as part of an operation to resist the gentrification of the neighborhood"

"The good part of all this confusion is that its citizens are open to change," reflects the Canadian of Mexican descent, who has presented the film Exarchia, the song of the birds at the Montreal Documentary Film Festival (RIDM). In it, he portrays the country that for years has once again been the epicenter of the West.

Greece has gone from being the cradle of civilization to becoming its weakest link. The nation that faces the most to the consequences of the economic crisis, also located in the front line of the migratory conflict, has also been the first in experiencing political polarization where many other countries are now.

"The neighbors of Exarchia and the Greeks in general suffer this weight of history. They feel responsible for what is happening in the West, but, on the other hand, they know it is unfair that they are the ones who pay the brunt of this multiple crisis. That is why they are trying to discover what role they play now, "reflects Gómez in Montreal.

In that limbo of indefinition, the place complies with the two genres of the classic drama. There is tragedy in the extreme revolution being waged in its streets, and moments of sour comedy, to become one of the favorite destinations of the so-called tourism of demonstrations.

Born in Mexico and settled in Canada, she met the Greek neighborhood when she came to see a play that premiered there a friend of his. After that first trip, he returned four more times to shoot the documentary. "It was in the last of them that almost all the material was collected. The previous ones served to really know the place, demolishing prejudices, and knowing what is the story you want to tell. "

In one of the street dialogues, a transsexual woman confesses to having mixed feelings towards immigrants who arrive in her country and her neighborhood, despite recognizing having faced intolerance in the first person. With his testimony he shows how complicated it is to position oneself in social debates that populism tries to reduce to a question of black and white.

The convulsive nights of Exarchia, the Greek neighborhood where gentrification and molotov cocktails coexist

Image of the documentary 'Exarchia, the song of the birds'. / RIDM

Make politics from the culture

Gómez's camera also shows how the inhabitants of Exarchia mount a play in a semi-basement or rehearse choreography in the middle of the street. "They do not depend on institutions and they stay alive and united," says the filmmaker.

"There is a tendency to expel the art of politics, without realizing how important the dialogue between them is. Everything in life is political. In a way, the anarchists of Exarchia understand it that way, even if they see it and express it in a radical way, "says the Mexican.

The documentary begins at dusk and ends with the sunrise, between both moments, everything happens in the many evenings that Gómez has spent in Exarchia. The night is when the neighborhood is more awake and the most fruitful moment for the intentions of the director: "It is the proper time of the oneiric. After all, politics is based on ideals, which are fantasies with which we project the idea of ​​what we would like to be. "

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