The Grocer, on the pathways of Pindos
by Guilhem Caillard
- Dimitris Koutsiabasakos’s new film presented in its international premiere at the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Pindos, the main mountain range in Greece, was already the chosen backcloth for Dimitris Koutsiabasakos’s previous fiction feature film, The Guardian's Son (2006). The Grocer, a documentary made seven years later, gives an even greater presence to the south-eastern part of this region. The film, which has just been presented in its international premiere at the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, was warmly received by spectators who rewarded it with the highly-coveted "Greek Film Audience Award". In 2012, the festival had already backed the project during the professional "Docs in Progress" sessions. A widely noticed success for this promising documentary.
Several times a year, Nikos Anastassiou and his wife Sofia travel through these isolated communities to meet their elderly inhabitants. The couple owns a grocery truck, very few of which still exist. In the heart of the mountains, the merchants come to supply these people whom they have known for 30 years. Being much more than suppliers, the film truly captures the extent of their devotion. Their visits are long-awaited events for the inhabitants, an excuse to socialize, share the world’s news, fraternize, cry sometimes, but mostly laugh a lot. With a sense of deference, Dimitris Koutsiabasakos films the link uniting the two parties, testifying to the very real need to which it responds. When she learns of the death of one habitant whom she says she has known forever and looked upon as a mother, Sofia is overcome with sadness. But the journey through the winding paths of Pindos needs to go on, following the rhythm of the four seasons captured by the director. Under the snow or in the heat of summer, rituals follow one after another with the same encounters, a few months apart, always unveiling a little more about the life of the locals. Brief but generous reunions, during which Koutsiabasakos allows himself a few superb musical interludes with traditional songs.
More recently, the grocers have been helped by their sons. But for how long? Here a dialogue opens up with Little Land, also discovered in Thessalonika (WWF Award): youngsters running away from the gloom of Athens to seek refuge in the mountainous island of Ikaria. First uncertain, they settle down and confront a real need for solidarity. After a profusion of documentaries-reports in 2012 about the financial crisis in its reality (demonstrations, political reasonings), Little Land participates with The Grocer in a wise reflective step backwards. Greek documentaries thus seem to want to focus more on “tomorrow”.
(Translated from French)
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