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Lettre à Theo
Regissør: Élodie Lélu

MIGRATION / In Lettre à Theo ("Letter to Theo"), director Élodie Lélu explores the visions and work of the late Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos related to the refugee crisis in Greece.


One of Greece's foremost directors Theodoro's "Theo" Angelopoulos died in January 2012, on the set of the film he never managed to complete. fiction film The Other Sea was to be a tale of the smuggling of migrants and their arrival in the Greek port city of Piraeus, shortly before this fiction scenario came to fruition in Greece.

I Letters à Theo, which had its world premiere at last year's DOK Leipzig, seeks out French director Élodie Lélu Angelopoulos' unfinished film in memory of their project and collaboration, which in several ways was prophetic of today's situation in Greece.

A movie diary

Lélus movie is like a diary. Every day she turns to the late Theo and ponders his visions and efforts as "the filmmaker of migration". Lélu deals with Angelopoulos' work throughout the documentary. Excerpt from his films, she cleverly merges with her own documentary footage. She doesn't want to abuse his words, and sometimes lets Angelopoulos speak for herself through her films.

Letters à Theo is true to Angelopoulos' motives and treats the themes that have emerged in many of his works – concepts such as external and internal boundaries, exile and the search for a place to call home.

For thousands of people fleeing war and poverty are
Greece has become "a big waiting room".

Angelopoulos' personal visions, expressed in all his films, characterize the thematic choices as well as the cinematographic language. Lines – sometimes less static and rather volatile – are present throughout Lélu's documentary. Faithful to Angelopoulos' style, Lélus's camera makes generous movements that allow respite in every recording. Every now and then, the camera follows her man-made lines – these may be lines of destiny that never seem to meet, or those formed by narrow corridors in a hotel transformed into a refugee haven in Athens.

When the camera arrives at the Asylum and Refugee Office, it reveals an endless queue of migrants at dawn. The camera moves from one person to another and shows us the many faces of the crisis. At the same time, we do not have the opportunity to concentrate on the individual stories of the individual. "This is the door to Europe, Theo," says Lélu. "In a small, white room, two experts, a printer and a microphone they tell their stories in. The beginning of their stories is different, but the end is always the same."

Lettre à Theo Director Élodie Lélu

The search for the "other sea". Just like the Greek colonel who lifts his foot over the borderline of the Angelopoulos movie The Suspended Step of the Stork, Lélu flirts with the question of boundaries. She explores the fragile line between here and "elsewhere", imagination and reality. This brings her to a temporary migrant camp (now closed) at the former Elliniko airport near the Greek capital. Countless people are waiting here to refuse to believe that the abandoned airport could be the "elsewhere" they were looking for, the ultimate goal of their perilous journey. But for thousands of people fleeing war and poverty, Greece has become "a great waiting room".

Some of the refugees she is filming are similar to Angelopoulos' protagonists and to the late filmmaker himself, such as Rahin, who also dreams of reaching "The Other Sea". We meet an attorney from Aleppo, Izzet, who, despite having lost everything (except his words) on the trip, considers exile as an opportunity to understand Greece – «Iliads and Odysseys country ».

Angelopoulos was a man who once thought politics was a matter of faith – an ideal that came to fruition later in his life. The crisis was to be at the heart of his latest film. It was meant to tell the story of the Greek crisis, but also the crisis of a Europe whose united political front now seems more distant than ever. The crisis, which Angelopoulos fiercely fought for, is affecting the whole Letter to Theo. Yet there is also a hint of resistance in the documentary. The French director refuses to share Angelopoulos' disillusioned stance on politics, pointing to elements of resistance that can be felt and felt in today's Greece, giving hope that real politics still exist.

Sevara Pan
Sevara Pan
Sevara Pan is a writer, based in Berlin.

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