Positively Different film festival in Athens

Hi everyone! I am Sandra. About 8 months ago, I became involved with the FCV, helping out with the translation of contents for their website, and just before Christmas they asked me if I wanted to join a project called “Through the Lens of the Other” (TLO), led by the greek entity Inter Alia, together with twelve other entities form around Europe, and under the Erasmus+ program. The project tries to raise awreness and work on the concept of intersecctionality, through local activities and international stages.

I joined during the second phase of the project, for the creation of a short film talking about a current problem suffered by a group or minority, that would afterwards be screened in a film festival in Athens, called “Positively Different”– organized by Inter Alia as part of the project. We shot the documentary with a group of four young men, currently living in a flat operated by Fundació Mercè Fontanilles, that entered Europe irregularly when they were underage. They told us their stories and ambitions, and that resulted in a documetary that showed a hard truth from a sincere and optimist point of view.

When it came to organizing the trip to Athens, I was one of the lucky people, along with Mercedes,  Lorena,  Ana María, and Anass, one of the leads of the video. Unfortunately, he had to cancel due to some unfinished paperwork. Finally, we left for Athens the morning of the 12th of February, and came back the afternoon of the 16th.

The festival took place from the 13th to the 15th, and the screenings started at noon, so we had a lot of time to enjoy and explore the city. We also had a great weather, so we only went to the hostel if completely necessary. There were also two meetings on the TLO project during one day, but since they were more oriented to the organizers, I didn’t attend.

As for the festival, both amateur films – those presented by the participants of the project – and professional short films – from studios from all over the world that responded to a call in a platform for creators and promoters – were screened. The screenings were done in blocks: we were the first ones to present our creations, and then the professional ones, also organized in blocks by theme.

Out of the hundreds of films that responded to the call, 44 were screened, selected by a committee before the festival. Professional shorts competed for two economic awards, one chosen by the audience and the other one by a jury. Many of the creators also attended the theater, and agreed to answer questions and comments about their shorts. It was also very enriching to share with them social activities outside, such as meals or “getting a drink” once we left the cinema.

Personally, this experience was even more special as I turned 20 on the last day of the festival, and I was able to celebrate it with incredible and very diverse people I had just met. Who was to tell me that a London film director would invite me for a beer at a bar in Athens for my birthday?

I was amazed by everyone’s respect and desire to listen and learn from the others. Never did they make me feel inferior or less valid either because I was one of the youngest, or because I had no artistic background, or because it was the first time I participated in any project such as this one; rather the opposite, all conversations were among equals and everyone always learnt something. Even with the organizers we were able to exchange ideas about the festival for possible future editions.

I guess the only thing I have left to do is thank everyone that made it possible, and recommend this experience, or a similar one, to anyone remotely interested in learning about different realities of people, both for the project itself and for the opportunity to meet and work with people with different backgrounds.