Sissy Doutsiou speaks about the poets in exile during the civil war in Greece at Arts Visual & Film Poetry Festival in Vienna.
15. November 2023, 20:00
Location: Factory im Künstlerhaus, Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Wien
Moderation: Sigrun Höllrigl (festival director)
One of the major highlights of this year's festival program is the Austrian premiere of Olivier Zuchuat's documentary film "Like Stone Lions at the Gateway into Night" (87 min.) It is about the Greek prison island of Makronisos (1947-1950). Followed by: International panel, including Sissy Doutsiou actress and poet from Greece, open a discussion on Greek poets in the camp, memory, memory culture and the Greek Civil War.
In 2013, the publishing house Ypsilon Éditeur (Paris) published an anthology of Makronissos poems in French: "L'amertume et la pierre. Poètes au camp de Makronissos 1947-1951", edited and translated by Pascal Neuveu. The book contains poems by Yannis Ritsos, Aris Alexandrou, Tassos Livaditis, Titos Patrikios, Ménélaos Loudémis, Victoria Théodorou, Dimitris Doukaris, Leftéris Raftopoulos, Manolis Kornilios, Kostas Kouloufakos and Tzavalas Karoussos.
The documentary film "Like stone lions at the entrance of the night" by Olivier Zuchuat celebrates its Austrian premiere at the Art Visuals & Poetry Film Festival!
Like Stone Lions at the Gateway into Night
Director: Olivier Zuchuat
Jannis Ritsos, Tassos Livaditis, Ménélaos Loudémis
Between 1947 and 1951, more than 80 000 Greek men, women and children were deported to the isle of Makronissos (Greece) in reeducation camps created to ‘fight the spread of Communism’. Among those exiles were a number of writers and poets, including Yannis Ritsos and Tassos Livaditis. Despite the deprivation and torture, they managed to write poems which describe the struggle for survival in this world of internment. These texts, some of them buried in the camps, were later found. «Like Lions of stone at the gateway of night» blends these poetic writings with the reeducation propaganda speeches constantly piped through the camps’ loudspeakers. Long tracking shots take us on a trance-like journey through the camp ruins, interrupted along the way by segments from photographic archives. A cinematic essay, which revives the memory of forgotten ruins and a battle lost.
One usually writes poems to celebrate the nature, to express feelings of love or existential sufferings. But rare are the ones who wrote poetry behind barbed wires, under torture. The texts written by the poets of Makronissos rise voices of resistance and bursts of strength; their poetical chronicles of the life of the exiles tell the terror and the survival in this barbaric laboratory entirely devoted to the “mental reprogramming” of communist resistants; they express the ubiquitous fear, the never ending wait, the thirst which consumes the bodies and the fatiguing stone duties. They talk about the nights full of the screams of the those who became insane under the tortures…
When I read those poems, I saw images of a terrifying past that I wanted to confront with the nowadays pictures of the ruins of the camps on Makronissos. I wanted to search in those heaps of stones and concrete for the “prints” of what happened there, to confront those “prints” with the shouting in the loudspeakers that crackle the fascist propaganda, to superpose those mental images with the pictures of the exiles.
The film fights against forgetting, at a time when nauseant nationalist fervours seem to re-emerge in Greece.
You can see all the program of the festival here