Panayioti Yannitsos, is a Greek-Canadian film-maker who has completed a feature-length documentary, Freedom Besieged, about the current economic and political climate of Greece with specific attention on how it has impacted the development of the nation’s youth.
What started as an idea to film a youth basketball camp in his mother’s village became a need to delve into the psyche of Greece’s youth and the challenges they face, which came about following a dinner with his friends in Athens. It was on this occasion that Panayioti witnessed first-hand the extent of how defeat and indifference had seeped into the mentality of an entire generation that was yearning for more.
The 70 minute documentary sees a list of some of the biggest names in the intellectual, political, and international community being paired with a 29-year-old Uber driver in central Athens, a 22 year old photographer working in the anarchist neighbourhood of Exarcheia, and a 30 year old entrepreneur building an eco-village in the mountains of Euboea. The list is impressive, and includes world-renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky, New Democracy Party Leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, four time Olympic medallist Pyrros Dimas, Greek football legend Giorgos Karagounis, Chief Spokepserson of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, Professor and Stateswoman Eleni Portaliou, and many more.
“I had this dream of putting this conversation, the development and psychology of youth in Greece, into the mouths of some of the world’s most well-respected politicians, intellectuals, and experts. The goal was to pair them with the 28 year old Uber driver in central Athens or a young farmer in the mountains of Euboea island and to build this bridge of communication through film. I received early criticism, because how dare I ask a non-Greek or even a Greek living abroad to comment on the current Greek story? But a friend once told me, Greece in many ways is a pot full of fertile soil, waiting for new ideas to help fertilize its territory and flourish. That exploration carries no reservations,” Yannitsos told Greek City Times.
“This phrase, “the lost generation”. I am not naive to the staggering unemployment rates, poor working conditions, brain drain, and all the issues surrounding youth in Greece today. It has been well documented and you will find those things in this film because they are part of the truth. But we have downplayed all of the positive attributes of many young Greeks in the nation and that is unacceptable. This roping in of an entire generation under the umbrella of collective hopelessness is a troubling generalization and rhetoric that accomplishes very little nor is a reflection of my findings as a whole in the country,” he added.
The film will premiere in Athens in April and you can watch the Official Trailer here-