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Atlas Documentary Mysteries Explained

Hello, I'm Dimitrios Kouzis-Lukas. I'm the executive producer of the Atlas documentary, and I'm going to go in a few hours in the International Immigration Film Festival in New York. And I find myself wanting to say a few things. Put the Atlas documentary a little bit into context, because I think people will watch this movie and will find it a mystery in many different aspects, especially if they're not familiar with the very recent history of Europe and Greece and Germany and all that. So the first mystery, I think is going to be what do the heroes do in this movie? Are they complaining or are they bragging, or are they doing both? And I feel the answer is both. Actually. The way they express themselves is a very Greek way, very different to what would happen in an American movie where people would be super direct.

They would say, this happened and that happened, and I was terribly sad, and everybody around me was very sad. So you will not see any of that. You will see people saying I made it. It was hard. I made it. I managed after many years to feel comfortable. And that that is not bragging at all. It's a little bit of bragging, but it's a lot of saying it should have been otherwise. And that's the second mystery for many people who will watch this movie, they will ask. So what's the problem really? What are you talking about? What went wrong? What are you complaining about? And that's, again, you have to see it in a historical perspective. What is wrong is there was this expectation that things will go fine.

So the heroes are people in their early forties basically, and they have seen their parents live through a period of great prosperity for Greece, where things were going better and better and better without really let's say any sacrifice, any request for real sacrifice. People thought that by voting the right people, things will get just fine. And that was the heros' parents. So when you see the heroes being so outraged in a sense by having to move out of Greece and feeling potentially let down by Greece is because there was this expectation that Greece is going to take care of you. And this totally didn't happen in 2008, 2009, it was proven that this is not the case. So the central point of this drama is the contrast between the expectation that things are going to go fine, "έχει ο Θεός" "God will protect us" which was the mindset of the last

probably 60 years in Greece, and what young people face right now, which is "Ο Θεός δεν έχει" which means "things are not going well, we have to do something". And yeah, this is totally unpleasant and totally unfair for this generation. Now, what you have to appreciate with those characters, and again, it's, it's not directly out, but it's implied in many cases, is that they don't have a stable life, so they cannot buy a house and have a steady life and you know, be hopeful for the future. And even, you know, they will be probably 45 and 50 years old before they can have a family and, and children, right? So we are talking about what their parents used to do when they were 25 years old, and probably an American also will do on their 25-year-old mark. They will do it on the 50.

So we are talking about 25 years, that's, that's what's implied there. That's what's at stake in this movie. So all this process of financial instability and actually a class related financial instability. Not everybody experienced that in Greece. But the specific class while other classes in Greece were saying "Everything is fine, look, Greece is fine". They were experiencing something that was making them move out of Greece and put on hold their lives for 25 years. And like again, an American might see that and say. "You are just five hours away from Greece" so this is Germany, five hours away, what are you complaining about? And it's not true at all, like it's four hours distance. True. So potentially you can take the airplane and go back to Greece and see your friends and family. But what they try to emphasize a lot is that it's a different language.

It's a different culture, and they totally have to adapt there. So Europe is not as integrated as the United States with, you know, Hollywood and common culture and you know, common values. So they really had to leave Greece when they were on their late thirties or in the mid thirties, and learn from scratch a new language and a new way to operate, and that has been, takes lots of resources and as I said, put their life on hold for about 20 years. You'll also get some hints of the German mentality themselves have not concluded how they feel about immigration, which is something that happens to the whole Europe right now. It's something to figure out. I think the US has already been in another level on, on this story.

It's supposed to be a country of immigrants, but every European country is battling right now. And maybe it'll be a battle for another five or 10 years or more on how do they feel about immigration? Do they want to be religiously or socially, nationally even homogeneous or they want to be really globalized countries. And of course you have to see that the laws are there and the agreements are there, and everybody... You could assume that this conversation has been concluded. But it's not like that. People in Europe often have not experienced real immigration inflow. One in such extent that changes the structure of how the society operates, right? So this is a discussion that's happening right now, and you can see that reflected in some of the things they say about what they faced as they joined Germany, which by the way, is one of the most immigration friendly, I think, countries in Europe.

So to put it in an American perspective there was supposed to be a recession last year, and imagine, we are not sure if this recession happened or will happen or yet, but imagine if this recession is more severe and people are forced to move, not to Canada or even Mexico, but somewhere where the English or the Spanish language is not spoken at all. For example, I don't know, Finland, right? So what you see stories of some people who, because of the American recession potentially moved to Finland and started there. And that puts Altas into perspective. Of course, they are not very open, as I said, they imply things, they take their time to imply their problems, which is again a story of Greek pride. It's it's the struggle, but we are making it it's not a cry for help or something like that.

it's not even disappointment. So being let down by Greece is... They take their time to express that. Through all the stories you will see lots of abstractions, maybe sometimes not very concrete stories. And that's the way of expressing that sadness basically. And finally, to put it again, into American perspective, fast forward now seven or 10 years from when all this started. We see that European Union kind of admits that this was all an experiment of fixing financial problems, and they don't consider this the way they treated Greece anyway as a successful experiment. So this part of the tragic irony of this movie, that all this thing was a thing about numbers, debt, and percentages that might or might not represent a huge problem, but it was considered as a risk for the big team, for the European Union at that point.

And this is the social impact what you see in the movie Atlas of, of actually numbers going wrong and people interpreting those numbers. And this is again, a thing we should ask in the US and everywhere else. What are the numbers? What do they mean and how do we react to them? Because numbers and policies have have real impact, right? And yeah, I think this is some of the context that you have to have to appreciate the Atlas movie even more. I have to say that this was not my story. This is certainly the director's story. I left about five years earlier, so I left Greece angry and out of fear of what might happen, whereas the director and the other heroes left a little bit later and they left disappointed because the bad things have happened.

But it's a story that needs to be told. It's massive. It affected many, many people. And I think it's also an opportunity to create a Greek cinema, the 40 years old now, people who have already experienced a lot and they have interesting stories to say. Greek cinema I think, repeats a lot older stories maybe the 60-year-old people's stories, which are okay, we know them, but they're a little bit old. They're of course valid and, and we need more cinema. But I think it's time to turn the lens to the 40 years old and maybe the 30 and the 25 years old, and ask them how do you see what is happening now, listen to their stories, and yeah, I hope this is also what Atlas brings. Anyway this is Dimitrios Kouzis-Lukas. I hope you enjoy the movie, and thanks for watching.

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