Minority Report: Movies and Minorities at AIFF

Cinema has always shown great interest in minorities and the 22nd Athens International Film Festival has decided to present a special tribute to the light and dark aspects of human diversity with the free screenings of eight films, both new releases and classic films, at the Greek Film Archive. What is it like to feel like a stranger in someone else’s world? The tribute aims to encourage mutual understanding, respect and acceptance, the extinction of stereotypes and prejudices, so that the groups in question can adapt to and remain within the wider educational system.

In our efforts to define the minority issue in a sociopolitical and cinematic way, our aim is to place it within a wider framework that touches upon themes such as social integration, immigration and the refugee crisis, the adversities faced by certain members of the population because of their race, their native tongue and the country they were born in, and their sexual orientation, and, of course, the awareness towards the hardships faced by every minority group.

At the Festival’s press conference on September 14th, Yorgos Ioannidis, Special Secretary for the Management of Sectoral Ops of the European Social Fund, stated: “It was a great joy on our part to realize this initiative to support events which add to our quality of life, in Athens and across the country. […] Our program is there to support and integrate children, which, for example, might translate to a cultural education initiative for Roma, Muslim and refugee children and their organic integration into the education system through the covering of the cost such a move might bring about - from the person who will go to the camps and take the children to school to the necessary continued education for the teachers or any infrastructure development”.

The “Minority Report” section will include the screening of the digitally restored, director’s cut version of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” for the first time ever in Greece, a film which chronicles the mass racially-charged crimes in 19th century Wyoming against immigrant workers. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s melodrama masterpiece “Fear Eats the Soul” follows a love affair between a lonely widow and a young immigrant, which goes against all racial prejudices. “My Beautiful Laundrette” by Stephen Frears also focuses on the healing power of love, through the unconventional love story between a social-climbing young Pakistani and a rebel Londoner.

This section’s premieres include “Soy Nero” by Rafi Pitts, a film about a young man born in Mexico but raised in the States, who is trying to get his green card by enlisting in the US army. “The Fixer” by Ian Olds depicts the unbearable frustration of a man without a homeland, while the road movie “Red Carpet” from Switzerland, with directors Kantarama Gahigiri and Fred Baillif in attendance at the screening, touches upon the dream of a group of kids from the poorer Lausanne districts  to take their film to Cannes.

Apart from the reconstructed reality of fiction, though, the tribute wouldn’t be complete without documentaries. Ariadni Koutsafti’s documentary “Don’t Call me Stranger” will take us right into the contemporary odyssey of the refugee crisis and will screen alongside “Sam Roma” by Marina Danezi, with both directors in attendance.

The “Minority Report” section is realized within the framework of the Operational Program “Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning” and is co-funded by Greece and the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources.

OTE TV is the Great Sponsor of the 22nd Athens International Film Festival.