By Anna Mazarakis
A couple who met at a political demonstration, a doctor forced to take another job as an escort and a mixed-race couple facing discrimination are just a few of the stories told in a new documentary, “Love in the Time of Crisis,” which attempts to show how the economic meltdown of the past six years has affected love in Greece.
Co-directors Theopi Skarlatos and Kostas Kallergis are journalists who have extensively covered the Greek financial crisis but eventually tired of the same stories about riots, politics and the economy. They wanted to show a different side of the crisis.
A piece of graffiti saying “Love or Nothing” in Greek and conversations with friends about their difficulties in forming a relationship and starting a family got London-based Skarlatos thinking that love was a story that needed to be told. So, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that raised 17,582 euros, Skarlatos and Kallergis went looking for love in Greece.
“I think that’s what we were searching for: how people managed to survive the crisis, how they got through it even when they had nothing,” Skarlatos told Kathimerini English Edition. “And I think what we found was that it is love that brings friends together, families together, couples together.”
The 78-minute documentary was completed in February after about a year of production – including coming up with the idea, researching, fundraising, filming and editing. The film has had two closed screenings, one in London on June 10 and the other in Athens on July 17, it has been sent to film festivals for consideration and the directors are now in talks with distributors to have the film screened publicly in Greece, they said.
Split into five sections for the five Greek words for love – agape, ludus, eros, philia and pragma – the documentary addresses the current state of love in Greece through interviews with various couples and single people about how they perceive the culture of romance in Greece. Journalists, a psychologist, a doctor and a divorce lawyer also give different perspectives on the trends of love in the country.
Some of the people interviewed are more pessimistic about love during the crisis, saying that it is “painful” or harder to find. Others are optimistic and believe that love is bringing people together and making them feel more secure despite financial worries.
Through these stories, the directors said they were trying to see how love has changed during the crisis and how it has stayed the same.
“You don’t expect love to change and we tried to show how people still and will always fall in love, even during war, a dictatorship, or an economic crisis,” Kallergis said.
The documentary does show that there have been changes in the way love is perceived in Greece, though. According to the research, more young adults continue to live at home with their parents, making it harder for them to have romantic relationships. A brothel owner tells the filmmakers that she has been increasingly been approached by women looking for work, especially married women, who may never have considered such an option in the past. They also found that infidelity is on the rise, especially among married women.
Some of the stories told in the film can send viewers on a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride, from that of a couple happily expecting their first baby to the story of a woman who had fertility problems and underwent multiple treatments to conceive, only to get an abortion once she was fired and it appeared that her husband would lose his job as well.
Despite some of the more heartbreaking stories, there are happy ones too, such as that of a couple who have been married for 67 years and are still deeply in love. The directors said they wanted the documentary to end on a more optimistic note to show that love and positivity go hand in hand.
The reactions from the audience at both closed screenings were positive, the directors believe, saying that the attendees expressed their appreciation for a new approach toward the crisis and were moved by the stories told.
“I’d like people to come away with the thought that love is there and it is around but you do have to search for it and you do have to choose it,” Skarlatos said. “If you see the positive side of where Greece is heading, and you choose to embrace that, then you’ll see that love really does exist and Greece has a bright future.”