In Greece, crisis’ effects appear everywhere. In Europe, it is the country where the political and economical experiment of austerity culminates. Beside the so-advertised shut down of the public TV channels last June, the public health system is also concerned by budget cuts. On Ikaria island, a resistance movement is organized in order to preserve the right to health. Tirelessly, four young doctors, try to mobilize the population to establish a balance of power, either successful, either weak, with the national administration, aiming at saving the only local hospital against the ministerial decision to merge it with Samos (other island) hospital. Refusing the resignation, they try to maintain a struggle with optimism. This resistance is also the occasion of friendship and happiness, like a new way of reinventing the idea of community.
Urgency of the project
IKARIA is already supported by two French producers, Arnaud Dommerc for Andolfi Cie and Jean Baptiste Legrand for Centrale Electrique Cie. However, because some of the characters that already belong to the movie, will be appointed soon in another hospital, outside of Ikaria; also because the survival of the Ikarian hospital is an imminent issue, I must go on filming without getting all the funding that I need now. That is the reason why I ask all of you to support the IKARIA documentary project through this crowd funding adventure on KissKissBankBank website. If you like cinema, if you enjoy documentaries, if you support the right to health, in advance, I thank you for your help!
Supporting the idea of community
In IKARIA, everything follows both ideas of community and solidarity. The hospital itself has been built by the local people, women and men, thanks to the solidarity of the pan-Ikarian diaspora, mostly from North America. The resistance movement against its closure is also a collective movement, like the making process of this movie. This represents a major ingredient: complicity between local activists, technicians and the movie director is the core of this current project. The idea of community will also regularly appear during the fests scenes, the so-called Panyiris, where traditional dances and music gather young and elders in some never ending spiral of bodies.
The concept of the movie
In this movie, the characters are not only the spoken persons of the cause. They are real protagonists already partners of the movie. All of them is willing to campaign for the cause of their hospital outside of the island’s boarders thanks to this documentary. Through their friendship, their personal and professional commitments, the movie aims at offering a real identification to the audience, beyond traditional interviews sequences.
The main characters
“Here it is not a revolution like in Latin America. We light up some modest fires every where, but not a big and national fire”.
Sotiris chose to become a permanent doctor in IKARIA’s hospital in order to get closer to his ikarian wife, Anna, who also works at the hospital as a nurse. He belongs to the primary team that created this social movement when the local people heard about the possible closure of the hospital. So he manages to inform the population about the meaning of such political decision in everyone daily life. He also brings the mobilization in Athens streets, during demonstrations that usually start in front of the Ministry of health. Sotiris feels very free to take the floor and express the needs of resistance in front of large audiences.
“The struggle we lead here in Ikaria, does not only aim at saving the Greek public health system. It is also for the rest of Europe. We want this victory for all of us.”
Thomy (27 years old) studied medicine in Thessaloniki and in Germany. She plans to be a neurologist. The immigration issue is a real dilemma for her “if everyone leaves the country, who is gonna take care of the people here in Greece?” She worked during one year at the Ikaria’s hospital before being appointed in a rural dispensary, in Rachies, a village in IKARIA’s mountain. Thomy keeps mobilized against the merge of the local hospital. She fight for a society based on solidarity. She claims for a universal right to health, in Greece and everywhere else.
“Am I proud to be Greek? I wonder why I should be proud of a country made of rocks and stones! At least, I am definitely not proud of the Greek State!”
Alexandros (28 years old) grew up in Athens, and plans to be a pediatrician. After a one year contract as a doctor at the hospital, he has been appointed in Karkinagri, a very remote village on the west of the island, where the population, mostly composed by elders, feels isolated without doctor. Despite the increasingly needs of doctors during summer time, he has recently been forced to leave the island for his military service. Even if he had committed to combine a soldier position in IKARIA with maintaining a free support to the local health system in the same time, the army department decided to send him far away. Fond of cinema, he was deeply involved in organizing a local Cine-Club in order to promote collective debates in the village.
“I never studied medicine in order to get rich. What I want is to help people. This is the purpose of my position.”
Pulios (32 years old) plans to be a psychiatrist. Currently, he is still working at the Ikarian hospital for a second year contract, in the emergency department. He realizes the needs of the local population in term of health, and particularly in term of psychological issues. He fell in love with the island, the mentality of the people and the various geography of the place. Within the resistance movement, he also tries to preserve the qualities of the small insular community based on solidarity. Pulios also draws street art. The stickers that he published and spread all over Greece, constitute a mean to go on promoting the fight for every individuals rights.
The purpose of the movie
This documentary proposes a thinking about the right to a public health system, which is internationally promoted in legal mechanisms, as a fundamental right like Human rights. Here, the citizens don’t want to replace the political representatives. They just want to remind them some essential issues in the context of austerity. They want to express some limits to the decisions that are taken nationally in the context of crisis. This movie is about resistance. The citizens coordinate themselves in order to say NO whenever they consider it is necessary to remind that Human being is the priority in any circumstances. Health and life can never be separated.
IKARIA: a decor with a double meaning
Belonging to oriental Sporades Islands, close to Turkish coasts, IKARIA is the island where supposedly, Ikarus fell, while he was flying too close to the sun, attracted to his light and heat, as we are all attracted to some kind of absolute. As a backstage, this myth appears in the movie when it deals with the collapsing of a kind of European prospective based on an unlimited economical development.
IKARIA is also the island where the allies deported the communist leaders after the second world war whereas they didn’t want Greece to fall into the bad side of the iron curtain during the cold war. In IKARIA, elders looked at the show of communism collapsing 30 years ago. Today, ironically, they witness the collapsing of neo-liberalism and its consequences in term of public services.
Greece: a singular country
I first met this country, years ago, while I studied law at the University of Thessaloniki in the frame of the European Erasmus program. Since then, I became passionate by this nation, mostly known for its glorious past and its summertime characteristics. Greece is geographically isolated in the Eastern part of Europe, close to oriental culture. It is also isolated by a language that no body talks except Greeks and Cyprians. Greece is an historical place of resistance and freedom despite the ottoman occupation and the recent dictatorship. Even if life is harder since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, people keep smiling and optimistic. Ironically, the local resistance to save the hospital constitutes a new way of thinking the democracy. Locally, people gather, discuss and try to figure out relevant responses in order to organize the daily community for today and tomorrow.