People from many European countries will come together in the “Potsdam Project House” during the Easter time 2022. These are people who selected interview partners in the individual countries for our “Finding Europe” project, who determined the locations and who conducted the interviews on the desirable future of the EU, which we recorded with our cameras from the observer position. Now our protagonists, as we like to call them, will also meet each other for the first time.
Putin’s terrible war against Ukraine has changed the political map of Europe. Decades seem to lie between the interviews that our protagonists conducted between July 2020 and December 2021 and the present days. Europe seems united like never before. Most sanctions against Russia were decided un-bureaucratically and at lightning speed. Countries like Poland and Hungary are suddenly taking in large numbers of refugees. EU membership for Ukraine is within reach.
And yet there is much to suggest that the new unity and the new rethinking are also covering up the deeper cracks and problems in the EU. The social and economic differences in the Union are still enormous. People are still worried about affordable housing. There is still poverty in the EU. National groups are still striving for member states to withdraw.
In Potsdam we want to find out what our protagonists would say differently today and what they still think is right. In Potsdam, we will also bring new people into this project: on the one hand, young people from the city who will learn about filmmaking through working with us, and on the other hand, refugees from the Ukraine, whom we want to involve in the project behind and in front of the camera.
Are you between the ages of 16 and 27 or are you from Ukraine? Then you can simply register for the film workshop by email: mail[at]kameradisten.info. You can find more information here: Link to the organizer and partner.
October 15, 2021: We have finished filming FINDING EUROPE in the Basque Country and will be shooting in Madrid tomorrow and the day after. It was a long way. 16 EU countries. 86 people. So many places. So many opinions, and yet they were largely in agreement on the desire for peace, a little prosperity, and an intact planet.
We talked to refugees, workers, academics, the rich, the poor, the ascended, the abandoned, the hopeful, the dreaming, the angry and the desperate. And we have filmed extensively Europe’s diverse living environments and landscapes, wastelands and lively cities, dense forests, rugged mountains, castles of houses and dry grasslands, streams of light and almost complete darkness. Never before have we taken so much footage from a film project into the editing room.
It’s going to be a cozy winter in front of the screens in which we have to sort and understand all of this. Keep your fingers crossed that we understand all of this. This is going to be awesome.
In the meantime we have brought our film project “Finding Europe” to Greece, Austria, Lithuania and Poland, we will soon be shooting in Leipzig and Berlin (Germany) and we are intensively preparing the filming for the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania (Transylvania) and Italy, France, Spain, Denmark and Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Because we’d rather go filming than write about shooting, we have neglected this little blog very much. In loose order you can find a few stills from the filming in Austria, Poland and Lithuania. Those were some moving weeks in which we met very special people who gave us deep insights into their lives. Of course, the photos only give you an idea of that, but there will soon be a film that will tell you much more and more precisely.
Under the conditions of the global pandemic, “Finding Europe” has of course been and continues to be somewhat different than it war planned. There are quarantine times in the respective countries, when we have to wait and we are not be able to work. We no longer know how many tests (all negative) we already had in the team. We have to devote a large part of the logistics and planning to observing the respective national regulations and their hygiene concepts. But Corona (this is our impression of the material we have already shot) also makes the cinematic search for Europe much more exciting. Almost all interviewees mention the pandemic when they talk about Europe’s (lack of) cohesion, its decision-making ability and its bureaucratic hurdles. The “Finding Europe” project has become more specific, so to speak, because of the pandemic, because a very obvious touchstone of European identity is also the (non-) coping with the challenges of the pandemic: Corona is Europe’s elephant that stands in the living room.
In July 2020 we started filming for our project “Finding Europe”. Bille and Georgios (a German-Greek couple) took us to Hanioti, a double-faced holiday village in the south of Thessaloniki. Hanioti has two faces because it contains two European realities. The wealthy holidaymakers frolic along the coastline of the village. In the small houses in the mountains above the village, the staff of the vacation dream often lives in poverty. Those who are “lucky” work hard enough for a meager wage during the summer months, so that there is enough money for food, wood and a few little dreams for the cold, wet winter. Those who are unlucky fall by the wayside.
Georgios and Bille were our guides and translators. Georgios conducted three of five long interviews with people from the region himself. Bille also became a set photographer. Most of the pictures in the gallery below are from her.
Corona hit Hanioti hard. The number of visitors collapsed. Many “villagers” were now unable to find work in the hotels along the beautiful blue sea. The Greek state can hardly help. The Union’s austerity policy has paralyzed the country and has infuriated the Greeks. “Where is Europe when it is needed?” our interview partners kept asking us.
And yet there were tentative dreams of another Europe based on solidarity that might set out to resolve social inequalities within and between countries more resolutely. These parts of the interviews are perhaps the most touching.
We will go south a second time in the next few weeks. This time to Athens, where we want to explore the urban side of the country. Then we will turn to the next EU country, Lithuania.
The European house was once built by heads of state and governments and was initially primarily an economic project in the interest of a peace order. It was not the European people who demanded and fought for Europe, but they rather moved in the Union like tenants in a house that others built for them. Today, the European house is in need of renovation. Nationalists and separatists threaten it. Britain will leave the EU. People in other countries and regions are also campaigning for the exit.