Greece Year Zero (2016)

DANNIS KOROMILAS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  

//USA, 2016.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by , , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

As director Dannis Koromilas explains in the opening of this absorbing film, the history of Greece is well known when looking at the inspirational remnants of the ancient world, but how much do we know about the country’s history in the last century? In an efficient 70 minutes, Koromilas covers a period beginning with independence in 1830, the establishment of the Greek monarchy, through to the many changes and upheavals that have occurred in a short period of time that have led to the well-publicized economic disasters of the last decade. For myself as a viewer, the film has significance given that a great deal of its content, much of it illuminated by some eye-opening footage, has touched my personal life: I’m the grandchild of a woman who was expelled from Turkey during the population exchange of the early twenties, I’m the son of a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Athens and had a close member of my immediate family unable to leave Greece after borders were closed during the dictatorship of the early seventies, so objectivity is a more complicated matter when it comes to my reviewing this one. That said, objectivity is a bit of a problem for Koromilas as well, whose calling the film an essay rather than a documentary means to justify the often biased, sometimes poorly written narration (effectively delivered by actor ). Koromilas’ style of compiling footage doesn’t have nearly as personal or characteristic a tone as his commentary on it does, placing the film in a middle ground between documentary and personal essay which, usually, is where you find propaganda; that is not how this one is intended to play , so it weakens the overall effect of the work that the director doesn’t apply the same rigour to his storytelling that he gives to his research.  As a rare film to cover its subject, however, it’s a worthy effort and will likely have a great deal of emotional resonance even for those not directly connected.

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