Documentary, Germany-Greece 2020, DCP, colour, 76'

SYNOPSIS

The documentary follows for 6 years the daily routine of stray dogs struggling in the center of Athens and the people who take care of them. A hidden world emerges from the routes of the unknown Athenians and unveils the unexpected face and the heart of Athens, a city in the midst of change.

CREDITS & CAST

Directed by:
Angeliki Antoniou
Direction of Photography:
Angeliki Antoniou
Producer:
Angeliki Antoniou
Production:
Angeliki Antoniou Filmproduktion (Berlin)
Editing:
Chronis Theocharis
Sound:
Angeliki Antoniou, Costas Fylaktidis
Music:
Serafeim Giannakopoulos
Post Production:
Authorwave
Post Production Manager:
Panos Bisdas
Post Production Supervisor:
Liza Chrysochoou
Color Correction:
Manos Hamilakis
Color Correction Assistant:
Maria Tzortzatou
Technical Supervisor:
Panagiotis Karachalios

DISTRIBUTION

Greece:
Filmtrade (Athens)

WORLD SALES

FESTIVALS & AWARDS

PRESENTATION

Director Angeliki Antoniou presents "THE UNKNOWN ATHENIANS" during the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, 2020.

PRESS

LIFO

"The Unknown Athenians" is both a documentary and a road movie, a drama documentary and a glance at the urban landscape we rarely come across in the Greek cinematography.

Akis Kapranos

FreeCinema

"The Unknown Athenians" is an intimate film that hits (you) straight to the heart. Devoid of unnecessary drama and avoiding moralizing messages, it is a documentary in its purest form: simple, terse and honest.

Varvara Kontoni

EFSYN

The stray dogs we walk past, the passionate people who look after them, but also Athens itself fill the screen with optimism and emotions.

Vena Georgakopoulou

LIFO

It's more than just an exploration of the center of Athens both in its good and bad times. Tracking down and filming a network of anonymous people who are familiar with and sustain the stray dogs in the area. Angeliki Antoniou's documentary frequently goes beyond reality and borders to magic realism.

Tasos Melemenidis

FLIX

Angeliki Antoniou gazes at the space and time of an inconspicuous touching and "educational" survival adventure taking place every day at foot height around all those people who walk in the center of Athens.

Manolis Kranakis

tovima.gr

The streets of Athens abound in them. We see them every day as we walk and we might even recognize them. They are the stray dogs which, in her latest creation, "The Unknown Athenians", Angeliki Antoniou films lovingly keeping the distance. The director avoids moralizations and conveying "messages", sticking with German discipline (Germany is her second home, anyway) to the topic and simultaneously seeking the connection between the dogs and their caretakers.

We learn cruel stories about the past of those beloved animals and at the same time we are glad they are alive and that they have managed to surpass evil, even if the future looks bleak.

Giannis Zouboulakis

Enetpress

These routes show us a different aspect of Athens, an unusual one with its own beauty, through beautiful and poetic scenes, at a pace which abounds in emotions.

Ninos Fenek Mikelides

ATHINORAMA - Interview of Angeliki Antoniou

The award winning director Angeliki Antoniou ("Eduart"), this time puts her signature on a documentary introducing us to an inconspicuous world living in the capital city. In her documentary "The Unknown Athenians", Antoniou composes the portrait of people who take care of strays in the center of Athens selflessly and with characteristic humility. We talked to her over the phone amid the quarantine, when last spring the documentary premiered online at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

The protagonists of the documentary talk honestly. How long did it take you to prepare and film the movie?

"Initially, the idea for this documentary literally "met" me on the road. One day, I was in the center and witnessed a scene that deeply moved me. In the middle of a street, I saw a man on a motorcycle stopping and lots of dogs rushing to him. He was about to feed them; it was really surreal. He was the first person I met and wanted to film. Then, through him, I realized how many people there are who take care of strays. But, you know, it was really difficult to approach them. It took almost ten months for them to feel comfortable and open up to me. At the same time, it was quite difficult to observe the dogs, because you can imagine that they have their own schedule and follow an odd routine. Some of them started their day from their hangout in Amalias Street, and they remained there until late in the evening before going to the bar where they find food. But, all in all, it took seven years to complete the film."

It is obvious that you talk to people who prefer to remain obscure.

"You are right, that's why I tried to be particularly discreet while filming them. It was really helpful that I didn't have a large crew, and actually, I was following them everywhere like just another "stray filmmaker". I often felt like that because I spent long hours on the road, apparently without a destination. I had to be alert in case that one of the dogs would appear or something unexpected would happen."

The profiles of the people you focus on cover a particularly wide range of characteristics that surprise us. What will you retain after spending time with them?

"I was particularly impressed by what you said before; that they felt absolutely no need to show off. They are truly humble people and they didn't care whether someone was making a film around them or not. They love animals unpretentiously. Apart from that, inside them you can discover an interesting inner world. They look like philosophers or Aristophanes' heroes."

In the meantime, although the film takes place in the historical center, it insinuates the existence of several similar cases of people all around the city.

"That's true. I wanted my documentary to shed light in a part of Athens that we are unfamiliar with. The existence of stray dogs was used as a pretext for a lot more. Personally, as I followed the dogs, I discovered the city from scratch. For example, I loved the music in its streets. Still, at the same time, I experienced the changes in the city. I saw shops closing, some turning into bars, or kiosks disappearing. Naturally, there were also some cruel scenes which are part of the life of Athens."

Eventually, the documentary managed to be released, though a few months earlier, it premiered at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival online. How did you experience the pandemic in relation to the course of the film?

"Naturally, it was an unprecedented experience. I am used to watching films at the cinema and, particularly during the festival, to keep in touch with the rest of the directors, the audience, the reviewers. You know, I had never thought of presenting my film online from my kitchen! However, it is comforting that the festival actually took place. I personally felt the need to support it because it is of high importance and it must continue existing. Then, it was encouraging that things turned out in a way that the documentary could meet the cinema audiences."

Giannis Kantes-Papadopoulos

Movies Ltd

A film made to be loved, particularly by animal lovers.

Theodor Giahoustidis

Monopoli.gr

Angeliki Antoniou walks around the center of the city along with the strays of Athens in an extraordinary road movie full of humor, tenderness and dramatic twists.

Konstantinos Kaimakis

Eleftheros Typos

The strays of Athens have their own documentary

Kostas Zaligkas

Business Doc Europe - Interview of Angeliki Antoniou

After seven years of following the canine tribe through Athens, it was inevitable that Antoniou's resistance would be worn down. "I go and feed them myself now and I have developed a love for them again. I think of them as people that don't have a home, and are dependent on others."

"And now I walk the streets of Athens with newly opened eyes. In the past I was walking mechanically… Now every corner of Athens has a significance for me. Now I see the city from the point of view of the dogs."

Nick Cunningham

DIRECTOR'S NOTE

I was always curious about how stray dogs survive in the center of such a big chaotic city like Athens. That is something unique compared to other European cities, where there aren't any stray dogs wandering around.

So, by following them I discovered their secret saviors and benefactors, people who spend time and money to take care of them. This unique, symbiotic relationship sparked my interest.

Through the dogs and people's stories, the film sketches a touching portrait of the stray dogs of Athens living in the city streets and, at the same time, becomes a love letter to the capital of Greece, a place where I grew up and spent my youth.

Angeliki Antoniou

TRIVIA

Trivia #1

I never expected that a casual meeting would make me fall in love with the strays of Athens and then it would end up in a long-term relationship of life and love with them.

Trivia #2

Stray animals taught me everything people failed to teach me. Patience, tolerance, stoicism and adaptability to the unexpected. I literally realized what it means to be thrown out in the streets or be dumped as if you're trash. It was an important life lesson and a major weapon to face the pandemic that followed.

Trivia #3

Along with filming, we were editing in my editor's (Chronis Theocharis) office. Our permanent patron all these years was Aithra, the beloved dog of Chronis' family. Protected, always lying on the sofa behind our chairs, being cozy and looked after. If only she knew how lucky she was...

Trivia #4

In the two-minute presentation ["THE UNKNOWN ATHENIANS" during the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2020], Socrates, the stray dog I had been feeding during the first lockdown, died in November [2020], hit by a truck that literally ran over him and fled.

Angeliki Antoniou

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