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Loukas Paleokrassas: "Citizen Xenos"

With the film "Citizen Xenos", director Loukas Paleokrassas, took part in the 12th Annual New York Film Festival on 18 October 2018 in Manhattan. Lukás Paleokrassas, before the opening of the Festival, spoke to New Greek TV journalist Despina Afentouli about his film, the difficulties he encountered during filming, and the film's many messages, involving a complex subject, such as the refugee crisis.

Tell us about your new movie - it's also your first feature film.

It is the first feature, documentary, called "Citizen Xenos". It is a film that began in the winter of 2015 on the island of Lesbos during the height of the refugee crisis, where I found myself intending to have a more "long term" relation to the subject, that is to spend more time than what we are watching frrom journalists and I am interested to see the various perspectives from which this crisis can be experienced. By following some people who were in this situation: refugees, volunteers, locals. However, I was also interested in exploring this subject of the stranger, the person who receives and cares for a stranger, how he himself feels or has felt as a stranger - hence the title "Citizen Xenos".

The subject of the film is the refugee crisis in Greece?

Yes, the issue is the refugee crisis, how it affected the [Greek] islands, and how these people expect an integration and the difficulties they encounter in this endeavor.

How long did it take to make the movie?

Two years. It is a deeply personal film, in the sense that I shot it myself and did the montage, with the help of my producer, whom I found, I met her on the island as a volunteer, and I gave two difficult years for this result.

What is the biggest difficulty you encountered during filming?

The difficulties were many. When you have such a subject in front of your eyes - it's not a historical documentary archive - that is, you record what is in front of your eyes ... When the people you follow are in such an uncertain situation, this automatically passes to the production itself . So there was an anxiety when you got a character and you say this is what I'm going to follow, suddenly the next day he's gone, he's on his way, and that anxiety was something I had to live with, but it was something that made the movie authentic, in the sense that as long as I had these people, I stayed there for as long as I could, because you do not know if you will have the chance again.

What is the message you want to pass through this movie?

It's enough. One is that there are certainly no easy solutions to such a complex issue. From any point of view, there is neither good nor bad, they are people experiencing difficulties and need our empathy and our humanity.