“Lethal Nationalism” Review: New Greek Genocide documentary

Lethal Nationalism

Lethal Nationalism

The first Genocide of the 20th century has been kept silent for 100 years, however the voices of those martyred will no longer be silent thanks to a new documentary, Lethal Nationalism: Genocide of The Greeks 1913-1923. The documentary chronicles the genocide of the Greeks, and other indigenous Christians, at the hands of the Ottoman and Nationalist Turks.

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Greek City Times first reported about this documentary last week.

Since the report, Greek City Times has since not only spoken to Peter Lambrinatos, the director of the film, but were honoured to be exclusively the first to watch the documentary outside of the production team and review it.

There is no two-ways around this - Lethal Nationalism is not easy to watch. It not only hits you emotionally, but also intellectually and psychologically, making you question the very stability of human ethos and how man can be capable of such destruction and barbarity. 

The film begins positively about the ancient Greek settlements of Asia Minor, now in today's Turkey, and how it was a hub of commerce and philosophy and well integrated into the Greek world. As the film emphasises, thousands of years of Greek life was then extinguished in only 10 years in a mad drive by the Nationalist Turks to create a "Turkey for the Turks."

Lethal Nationalism is carefully researched and features not only Greek and Armenian academics, but also American and Turkish ones. However, if you're expecting a boring and overly intellectual documentary, you could not be more mistaken. The film keeps the viewer stimulated by not only interviewing esteemed academics, but by revealing never seen before to English-speaking audiences- footage and photos from the genocide, using many artists to depict shocking scenes, and retelling documented stories.

The art in the documentary is especially powerful because it helps bring to life the brutality of the Turks against the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire and provides a visual account of the genocide.

One such horrific event recounted in the documentary is when the Turks had rounded up all the women and children in a village into a church, keeping but just a few women to surely be slaves. The church was set aflame and the captured women escaped the grasp of their captors, running into the fire, preferring to die with their family and friends rather than be used as slavery.

How could this not hit the heart and the brain? And not make audience's question the value of human life?

The film is an eight year project, and the careful attention to detail and the passion put behind it is evident. It is also evident that the production team did not focus on winning awards and accolades as a primary motivating factor, but to make the whole world aware of the terrible crimes perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and the Nationalist Turks - something that Turkey today ardently rejects, denies and refuses to acknowledge despite more and more countries recognising this reality and the scholarly consensus that this genocide was perpetrated. 

Despite awards and accolades not being a motivating factor, Lethal Nationalism will not only make the whole world aware of the genocide, but it will get the attention and praise from the film industry that it justifiably deserves. It is little surprise that out of 4,532 entries from 74 countries, Lethal Nationalism is a semi-finalist at the prestigious WorldFest Film Festival - the same film festival that kickstarted the careers of some of the industry's greats like Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott and many others.

1 12With Lethal Nationalism's director Peter Lambrinatos heading in the same trajectory as these greats of the film industry, Greek City Times had the opportunity to speak to him about the documentary. 

Lambrinatos says that this documentary is important because it touches on the little known subject of the Greeks of Asia Minor, the "indigenous people with thousands of years of existence in the region."

"It has been 100 years since those dark events occurred and we still have not seen a major world wide work on this subject. We are very well informed of World War One, World War Two and other historical events, yet this subject has been buried," he said.

He also recounted that many people ask him "sad" questions, such as where is Asia Minor.

"They have no idea it is modern Turkey," adding, "another question is who are the Pontians... The silence around the topic had almost erased these people, their culture and their identity, as if they had never existed. I think it is time for this story to be told to a wider global audience."

When asked by Greek City Times how he felt about being a Semi-Finalist for a prestigious film festival that had over 4,500 entries, Lambrinatos said it was a "pleasant surprise" and an "honour."

"It is one of the longest running and oldest film festivals in the world, the competition is very tough. We can say we are beyond pleased," he said with pride.

"It also lets us know that the topic we are bringing forth is well received and people are learning something new, something they had no idea about - I would call it a double victory," the director explained.

One of the most burning questions though for those who have seen the trailer (see at the top of the article), is how and when audiences can see the documentary.

"We are currently hoping to have this film to be a truly global film - by global, we want the world to see the story of the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire. We have accepted invitations and submitted the film in Greece, many states in the USA,  as well as Australia, Mexico, Portugal, Croatia, Romania, Canada, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and the UK," he said, adding "We are currently looking for opportunities in Lebanon, Cyprus, Armenia, Germany, Serbia and other Latin American countries."

"We are just starting an information campaign for the general public about the films existence, we will be finalising a few things on the film and reaching out to global distribution platforms at the same time. We hope to have a follow up on this soon. The response has been great so far, there is chatter and conversation happening which means there is an interest in this topic, a topic that concerns everyone on Earth," Lambrinatos concluded.

Maybe, perhaps, with enough social media awareness and pressure, we can see this documentary on Netflix - so help spread this article and raise awareness of this new film that will let the whole world know of the Greek Genocide 1913-1923.

For the final and full release of the film, some additional funds need to be raised to have the film polished up and licensed for distribution - it is almost there! This 8 year project has been the blood, sweat and tears of executive producer George Mavropoulos and director Peter Lambrinatos.

You can donate here - every small amount donated makes a massive contribution. 

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