2016, Yannis Sakaridis, Drama
Filmmaker Yannis Sakaridis presents a clever satirical view of the Greek migrant crisis by exploring both xenophobic and sympathetic sentiments of Greeks towards foreigners escaping the war and hardships that engulfed their native lands. Told from three different points of view, the story follow through to an upbeat, yet realistic and plausible ending.
Nakos is an unemployed inhabitant of the small neighborhood of Amerika Square who grows increasingly disgruntled at the influx of Middle Eastern migrants coming to Athens. Much of Nakos’ frustration stems from his inability to do anything about the new demographics of his neighborhood, a situation he spends most of his time brooding over instead of undertaking measures to address the much bigger problem at hand – his dead-end life. The pathetic Nakos has few close allies – his parents with whom he lives and childhood friend Billy, the selfless tattoo artist next door in whom Nakos confides his hatred of immigrants. What Nakos does not confide in Billy is a sinister plan to eliminate some of the migrants utilizing a desperate measure that accomplishes a chain reaction only resulting in the loss of Nakos’ few remaining friends. Billy, a lost soul himself who has wittingly and unwittingly impacted countless other lost souls through his line of work, seizes upon an opportunity to help two migrants escape from Athens; one of which a beautiful African singer with whom he falls in love and sees that she escapes to France at great cost to himself; the other a weary Syrian doctor escaping the war in Aleppo and trying desperately to reunite with his 9 year old daughter who has been smuggled to Germany ahead of him.
In the end, sympathy and selflessness resonate more brightly than intolerance and Nakos finds his anti-migrant attitude to have cost him his only allies and the shreds of pride and dignity that had been clutching all along.
The Hollywood Reporter
By Deborah Young
“Amerika Square is overall one of the best European films to date on the subject of immigration in all its painful implications…directed with clarity and compassion…”
“Greece seen today as a melting-pot, being in the middle of the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time, demands a huge surge in solidarity while at the same time all the discontent rises to the top.
The rise of racism, Nationalism, Nazi Sympathizers and refugee haters are in the same country where huge unemployment and desperation forced a massive exodus of young people, the biggest in modern history.
Once the “Via Veneto” of Athens, the favorite place of celebrities, filmmakers and artists, like Maria Callas in the 50’s and 60’s, Amerika Square is one of the liveliest areas in Athens.
The Square has an increasing number of refugees after being the focal point and first stop in the search for a smuggler, and is the modern “Casablanca” where thousands of people are waiting for that piece of paper, fake passport or a seat in a truck, boat or anything that will transport them to Western Europe. It’s also an area where racists operated systematically by beating refugees and where a Greek Golden Dawn member was arrested for the murder of a left wing hip-hop artist.
I find fascinating the different cultural references in Amerika Square. The hectic, hot, colorful Athenian landscape that unveils a passionate, fragile world which lives on the edge of the society.”
-Yannis Sakaridis, Director