"Regardless of the hardship Greeks have endured from the financial crisis, for a long time my home country has by and large been a peaceful, safe and easy place to live. But now Greece is facing a new crisis, one that threatens to undo years of stability, as we struggle to absorb the thousands of desperate migrants who pour across our borders every day." -- 4.1 Miles director Daphne Matziaraki
CelebrateGreece.com's Cynthia Daddona and James Stathis met with Oscar Nominated short documentary "4.1 Miles" filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki in Beverly Hills, California at the Motion Picture Academy Arts & Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater for the Oscar tribute to the filmmaker's nominated this year for the best documentaries, both short and feature length.
(Watch the full 21-minute documentary "4.1 Miles" below)
During an onstage discussion of the Oscar-nominated short documentary, Ms. Matziaraki, born in Greece but now living in the United States, explained that though Greece is bankrupt and without extra financial resources to handle the overwhelming Syrian refugee crisis washing ashore onto Greek islands near Turkey, some individuals in the Greek Coast Guard have the heart and courage to daily save people fleeing war torn Syria (through Turkey).
In multiple dramatic rescues during a one-day shoot last October, Ms. Matziaraki was given unprecented permission and access aboard a Greek Coast Guard ship to film the reality of the crisis hitting Greece. The crew of everyday Greek heroes struggle with high winds, high seas, and high risks (both safety and political), though they are "completely unprepared to deal with the constant flow of rescues necessary to save refugees from drowning as they attempt to cross to Europe [Island of Lesbos, Greece] from Turkey," says Matziaraki.
"The coast guard felt completely abandoned, they told me, as if the world had left them to handle a huge humanitarian crisis — or allow thousands to drown offshore," told Matziaraki. Lives first, politics second would seem to be the message of the film as the filmmaker spent three weeks following the brave captain (Kyriakos Papadopoulos) of the rescue vessel, which is unequipped for any action outside of its routine patroling of the 4.1 miles of sea channel between Lesbos and the coast of Turkey. The captain had to this point lived a normal, family-oriented, and otherwise quiet life on his small island. As the film's website 4.1 Miles states, "There have been plenty of times that [Captain Papadopoulos] could turn his back. But he’s choosing to do the opposite: to respond."
Greece, the Greeks and the world try to come to terms on how to proceed from here. As for now, Greece may remain broke, but the Greek people remain unbroken.